Toronto Maple Leafs: Starting The Real Season Last Week

Elton PhanContributor IOctober 31, 2009

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 30: Tim Kennedy #13 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against Michael Komisarek #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at HSBC Arena on October 30, 2009 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs: First 8 Games: Failure, Last 3 Games: A New Team

This is my first article, so bare with me.

If you aren't a normal follower of the Maple Leafs, you probably don't know what I'm talking about, so l'll try my best. In the first 8 games, with the exception of a couple of games, the Maple Leafs were nowhere near mediocre, in fact, nothing short of abysmal.Game after game the Leafs Nation moaned to the fact that they were win-less in 9 games even though they controlled the larger part of many games. So you ask, how do they lose if they're the greater team?

The Maple Leafs found a way. Games headline by bad defensive play by the supposed 'bulked-up' defensive line, poor penalty killing, lower-than-average scoring, and mediocre goltending, is how. After losing in games in scores of 6-4, 7-2, 4-1, and 5-2, many gave up. After injuries to both goalies Gustavsson, and Toskala, hope seemed far from close. Going into the week, in a new road trip, there was light at the end of the pitch-black tunnel. Gustavsson was out of his groin injury and named the starter of the Anaheim game, his first start since losing 2-1 on Oct. 6 against Ottawa. After the game, the Maple Leafs' Fan Nation finally found what they were looking for since the beginning of the regular season, a win. After revving up every engine they had, and Gustavsson bringing out his best stuff, Leafs scored 6 goals, as Gustavsson picked up his first career win with saves nothing short of spectacular.

They travelled into Dallas hoping to carry the momentum and did just that. After Gustavsson's first back-to-back start, he continued his dominance in the net and the Leafs continued an acceptably good scoring trip, losing in OT 4-3 after controlling a game which they deserved to win. They continued into Buffalo, where star goltender Ryan Miller was having a career year placed on a team which had gone 8-1 prior to the game. The Leafs poured it on in which a game could have been called the 'Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ryan Miller'. Outshooting buffalo 35-28, and controlling the second half of the game, the Leafs had found new life. Gustavsson was great, the defensive play in front of the net improved, and the scoring seemed to have finally kicked in.

The Leafs travel into Montreal tonight (7.00 pm EST), hoping to end the road trip on a good note, perhaps a win, or at least a point. The last time they met was of course the opener, in which the Habs got off easy. If Toronto can continue their newfound pressure on offense, great defensive play and spectacular goltending, and with Phil Kessel on the verge of returning, who knows which way this Leafs team will go.

This team has faced a lot of criticism from fans, media, and even staff within the organization, it's time to prove them wrong.

What do you think will happen in the near-future of the Maple Leafs?