Recently, the Leafs have been less than stellar and have failed to make the playoffs since the 2003-04 lockout. Thursday night's game wasn't a complete turnaround for the better, but it is reason to start believing in the Leafs and sensing the reward of the rebuilding process.
The Air Canada Centre was achingly quiet for almost the entire first period as the young Toronto players made errant passes and gave the puck away several times.
However, as the game progressed, the Leafs began to gel together and play some decent hockey.
The scoring opened early in the second period with a short-handed goal by Matthew Lombardi. That alone is reason enough for celebration.
Toronto picked up Lombardi as part of a packaged deal that was essentially to acquire defenseman Cody Franson. Because of Lombardi's health issues, it would almost be a bonus if he played at all. Well he did play, and he scored short-handed. Ten points to Brian Burke for that one.
The rest of the second period played out without any more scoring thanks to some valiant efforts by Toronto's sophomore goalie James Reimer.
Next came another Leafs goal four minutes into the third period. Phil Kessel setting up Dion Phaneuf for a rifle of a blast over Carey Price's shoulder and into the net.
A major topic of the offseason speculation was how Phaneuf needed to find his scoring touch this year and prove his worth as captain. Well with an assist on Lombardi's goal and a solid goal of his own, he did just that. Kessel getting a point is a pretty good thing too.
The Leafs managed to win 2-0, but thanks almost entirely to Reimer's effort in net. The young goalie stopped all 32 shots he faced, some much more difficult than others. He kept the Leafs in the game throughout and looked very impressive in his first game as the Leafs' No. 1 goalie.
Overall, the defense shined with new-Leaf John Micheal Liles blocking four shots and Mike Komisarek dishing out six hits. Reimer was great, and the team was clicking on offense. It's still WAY too early for serious playoff hopes, but Montreal is a legit team and this team was a huge boost for this young Leafs team.
It's only one game but Toronto is undefeated!! I think the fans have earned the right to enjoy that.