From Phil Kessel getting his first (and second) goal of the season to an absolute beatdown of a division rival, the Maple Leafs played hard during their final three games of the week for 60 minutes a night.
After losing 4-1 to the Hurricanes, they bounced back for a gutsy 3-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg. After the Leafs found themselves down by a goal—which was scored short handed in the second period by Zach Redmond—Tyler Bozak got them back to even with a shorty of his own. The Leafs once again found themselves trailing in the third, but Matt Frattin's deflection and Kessel's sniper lifted the Leafs to victory.
For those keeping track, yes that is "Phil the Thrill's" first goal of the year; however, that was his sixth point (now leads the team with 10 after getting two goals and four assists this week).
I really hope the "trade Phil Kessel talk" dies down now and everyone relaxes a little. Before that goal he had five points in eight games.
Would people really be happier if he had five goals and no assist? What about two goals and three assists? Regardless, Kessel is continuously developing his two-way game very effectively and now has some goals to to make all the part-time Leafs fans happy as well.
Continuing the week, after beating the Capitals for their only home win thus far, the Maple Leafs had to go up against Alexander Ovechkin and last-place Washington the very next night. I (and I assume many Leafs fans) thought this was the perfect recipe for the Leafs to start to fall apart. It always seems as if they can't beat up on the lower-placed teams when they really need to.
But this time it was different, and after grabbing 3-1 lead after two periods, the Leafs held off a late surge and defeated the Caps 3-2. Newcomer James van Riemsdyk potted two in the first period just over two minutes apart, and Ben Scrivens did his part in net, stopping 24 shots for his second win of the year.
Then came Saturday night.
Division rivals, Canadian rivals and original-six rivals—no matter how you tee it up, it all means that neither the Maple Leafs nor the Montreal Canadiens think fondly of each other. Boy, was that clear at the Bell Centre. The game I believed to be the Leafs' toughest of the week seemed like a breeze throughout much of the night. Two goals in both the first and second period gave the buds a comfortable lead.
Then came the rough stuff.
There were 18 penalties in total in the final frame including five misconducts. Now for a second let's forget about all the rough stuff and put aside the question of who bit who, the Maple Leafs looked absolutely dominant against the streaking Canadiens.
They got a goal just 59 seconds into the game and never let off the pedal. They scored two power-play goals as well and killed eight penalties. All this after coming at the end of a week with three games prior. All this after already beating the Habs opening night in Montreal. All this after the Habs get their boy P.K. Subban back on the team and look to ready to climb the standings.
Surely, the Maple Leafs wouldn't be able to win three games in a row, on the road no less. Surely, Toronto can't beat Montreal twice at the Bell Centre in one month. But these Leafs are starting to look a little different than the ones that donned the blue-and-white jersey in seasons past.
These Leafs are actually starting to look good.
But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, because, as always, there are things that need to be worked on, such as...