Alright, please say "I" if you actually saw a win like this coming.
Silence. Just as I expected.
The Maple Leafs arrived in Atlanta at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, and although they had time for a practice, they likely approached their game knowing they were a tired bunch and simply hoped to squeeze out a win. The group will leave the arena with the knowledge that they may have just played their best game of the season.
Actually, forget this "best game of the season" talk. For some players it could be considered the best game of their careers. Take the line of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin as an example. That line produced 11 points on the night, including a career-high four points from Kulemin (two goals, two assists).
They weren't the only line that produced. The entire team seemed to keep the pedal to the metal for the majority of the game, only cutting the Thrashers a bit of slack in the final minutes of the third stanza.
In such an explosive bout, there are bound to be a number of very high points. The Leafs reached those levels Friday night...and they have the interesting stats to prove it.
Who would you start in net for Toronto's next game; Reimer or Gustavsson?
In The Game
Power Play Operated at 71.4 Percent: The Leafs went 5-7 with the extra man, which can largely be attributed to the four goals scored on the five-minute major penalty taken by Ben Eager for his sucker punch on Colby Armstrong. Eager also received a double-minor and a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.
Scored Seven Goals In 9:15: In a time span that stretched in between the second and third period, the Leafs managed to post seven goals, including four in a 3:32 time span. That equates to about one goal every 1:19.
Eleven Players With Points In The Win: Nikolai Kulemin, Tomas Kaberle, Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong, Phil Kessel, Francois Beauchemin, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Komisarek all posted at least a point in the night's wild affair. Interestingly, Armstrong posted a goal and an assist in just 8:30 of ice time before the sucker punch.
Thrashers Had 44 Shots on Net: In a game like this, it's easy to forget about the winning goaltender amongst the onslaught of offence. However, rookie goaltender James Reimer made 41 of 44 saves and posted a .932 save percentage.
These impressive stats came in just his third career NHL game and second career victory. He looked unstoppable for the majority of the night, most notably when he stood tall as the Leafs killed off a double-minor penalty on a high-stick by Joey Crabb.
Atlanta Switched Their Goalies Three Times: I'm sure a large portion of Leafs Nation had a good laugh about this one. Once the game hit a score of 4-1 in favour of the Leafs, Thrasher Coach Craig Ramsay pulled starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and replaced him with Chris Mason.
Three Toronto goals later and Ramsay sends Pavelec back in to replace Mason. However, that move would prove to be of no avail, as Clarke MacArthur potted the eighth Maple Leaf goal of the game with 11 seconds remaining in the second period.
At game's end, the two Atlanta goaltenders only saved a combined 25 out of 34 shots, which evens out to a nauseating .735 save percentage.
On The Season
Scored Five or More Goals In Three of Last Four Games: The Leafs faced the Ottawa Senators on New Years Day, trashing them 5-1 and earning James Reimer his first NHL win. They followed that with a loss to the Bruins, but countered that loss with a 6-5 shootout victory against the Blues Thursday night. That leaves us with Friday night, where they notched nine markers in a complete mockery of the Thrashers.
Eight Power Play Goals in Two Games Against Atlanta This Year: Ron Wilson mentioned this one in his postgame interview. Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur each notched two of the markers, while Phil Kessel and John Mitchell added one apiece.
Only NHL Team With Six or More Players With Over 28 Points: Okay, so I realize this one is a little weird. While the numbers are a little random, they don't lie. The Leafs currently have six players that have recorded at least 28 points, a feat no other NHL team has accomplished yet this season.
Two teams have six players with at least 25 points, those teams being the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers. Both clubs have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals within the past two years.
Reimer's Stats Are Spectacular: James Reimer has been nothing less than great during his time with the Leafs. In fact, he has been so great that Wilson hinted the team may not even send him back to the AHL when (if?) Giguere returns from injury.
In the four games he's played in, Reimer has registered two wins and one loss with a 1.87 goals against average and a .947 save percentage. To put that in perspective, Tim Thomas currently leads the league with a goals against average of 1.80 and a save percentage of .945.
Friday's win can be attributed to a great team effort. Each player on the squad contributed and the club received a fantastic performance from James Reimer. Wilson sums up Reimer's play the best in a postgame interview where he disposes of his usual secrecy regarding goaltenders.
When asked if Reimer's play Friday night would warrant the next start, he simply replied:
"Yeah, for sure!"