Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That feeling of optimism has totally disappeared

The season started with guarded optimism that bloomed into genuine optimism after the Leafs took over top spot in the NHL after about 10 games. This was a unique thing for Leafs Nation which has had very little to cheer about over the past few years. When to Leafs fell back into the pack in November everybody thought it was okay because of all the injuries including starting goalie James Reimer and stars Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were still scoring.

But the slide has stretched into the middle of December and the Leafs are playing even worse. Their penalty killing and defensive game have disappeared. Their goaltending has been inconsistent. The reality of an 82 game schedule has sunk in and the mood in Leafs' Nation has slowly returned to despair.

Against the Kings last night in a game that the Leafs badly needed to show they could get it back on track it just didn't happen. Heroics by Reimer salvaged a point that was clearly not deserved.

Good - Matt Fratin had one of his best games as a Leafs. He kated hard all night, used the body when he had to and was responsible in his own end. His scored his fourth goal by going to the net.

Bad - The Leafs just didn't show up to compete last night until they got to overtime. In the second period the Kings had a shot advantage of 16-4. Not exactly what you want to see if you want the team to get back on track. This was against Los Angeles who were complete write offs the night before against Detroit.

Good - It was good to see James Reimer back in a groove. He stopped 40 out of 42 shots and literally stole a point from Los Angeles. It might have been 2 points but for a crazy bounce of the glass behind the Leafs net that dropped onto the stick of Justin Williams for the first goal of the game.

Bad - Earlier this season Ron Wilson labelled Dion Phaneuf as the best defenseman in the NHL by a country mile. Not anymore. He is back to being the defenseman that arrived in Toronto almost 2 years ago. Mistake prone, out of position and having no luck around the net.

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