Toronto Maple Leafs: Takeaways from the Team's 4-0 Win over the Ottawa Senators
Saturday night was a night of redemption for the Toronto Maple Leafs (and their loyal legion of traveling fans) in Ottawa, as the team marched into Scotiabank Place and crushed its rival, the Ottawa Senators, by a score of 4-0.
The team played one of its best defensive games in a long time, and netminder James Reimer continued his dominance in Ottawa's home arena.
So what should you take away from Saturday night's tilt other than a big smirk and positive attitude?
Toronto has a No. 1 Goaltender in James Reimer
Sorry James Reimer haters, but he's back.
When healthy, Reimer is more than capable of manning the crease.
Do problems arise when he comes back? Sure.
Do you think the Leafs should stick with Reimer or pursue another goalie at the deadline?
But enough is enough. Saturday night's shutout proves that Reimer is back in form and can be the team's No. 1 goalie moving forward.
Boasting a record of 13-4-4 and a save percentage of .920 on the year, Reimer has proved he has what it takes to be considered a bona fide starter in this league.
Against the fifth-seeded Sens on Saturday night, the man that Leafs fans call "Optimus Reim" was always in position, not buried in his crease and was able to make a few saves on shots where the Sens tried to go five-hole (something that he's been known to be susceptible to).
Let the trade rumors about Roberto Luongo die (h/t Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports).
This team, if anything, needs to upgrade its core of defenseman. No point wasting valuable trading assets on acquiring a marginal upgrade in net.
Toronto can compete come playoff time
Now that we've established that the Leafs have the requisite goaltender to be a competitive team, let's take it a step further.
Now, you may think I'm nuts for suggesting this team can compete not just for a playoff spot, but contend once the playoffs begin as well.
That's because Toronto has just about all the aspects of a true competitor.
They have a reliable goalie who's found his groove of late. They have great special teams. And they've played just about every team well that is currently sitting in a playoff position.
All of those things were on display Saturday night. Toronto had no problem playing a team ahead of it in the standings. The Leafs killed every penalty they took while scoring a power-play goal of their own, and their goalie, Reimer, registered his second shutout of the season (both against the team's rivals, no less).
Just about every aspect of Toronto's game on Saturday night was firing on all cylinders.
If it continues to play this way into the postseason, Toronto could be in a position to make a run come late April.
Toronto still has a few things to work on
While Saturday night's game was one of the better games the Leafs have played all year, there are still a few concerns about the team moving forward.
For one, a lot of the offense lately has been coming from Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri (all four of tonight's goals were scored by those two, and they were also responsible for four of the seven Leafs assists).
With Phil Kessel going cold in terms of scoring lately, and James van Riemsdyk in the midst of a prolonged slump, Toronto will have to find a way to generate some offense from other key players before teams really start to focus on shutting down Lupul and Kadri.
The other concern is overall team defense. While there weren't as many lapses Saturday as most nights, there were some times when the defense looked a little vulnerable (see: Guillaume Latendresse skating around Mike Kostka).
While I do believe this team is ready to compete, getting offensive contributions from guys like Mikhail Grabovski, van Riemsdyk and Kessel, and maybe adding a top-four shutdown defenseman would go a long way to solidifying what this team has already put together.
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