Toronto Maple Leafs Wild and Crazy Guys: Kessel, Reimer, Orr, Lombardi, Schenn
But in the game, everyone was being a bit crazy.
Wild Man Phil broke for three goals, Orr had one, Reimer had a shutout for (101.42) minutes of the opening season and let in five in the third period.
Lombardi appears to be back with a vengeance, Schenn had a beating and Phaneuf was the dominant force in the game.
Phil Kessel Amazing Work Effort and His Magical 3rd Hat Trick
Phil Kessel played amazing hockey, working hard to get into the slot and fire pucks. He got a well-deserved hat trick, and either his linemates were creating space, or Ottawa Senators were giving him some.
On the first goal, he created some room for himself and made a little double move with his stick and then lasers one over the top glove. It seems that this should be an easy shot to stop, but the magic of Kessels wrist/snap shot is there is no projection from his hands that he is going to take the shot. Nothing then he fires.
The second goal was awesome because Kessel actually out works Gonchar along the boards. I think Gonchar was believing that if he hit Phil some he would stop him. Kessel makes a great move takes the hit keeps his feet moving rounds Gonchar. He them makes a tick-tack-toe play and leaves himself skating through the blue paint and slides one beside Anderson on the short side.
His hat-trick goal and the game winner is almost a repeat of the first goal he finds himself in the slot and fires a laser bullet over the blocker and skates to center ice.
Phil Kessel is a much maligned nice guy who likes to score goals. He is off to an mmazing start; way to go Phil.
Colton Orr Stumbles His Way onto the Score Sheet
Colton Orr scored a goal. Amazing by all accounts. It was Colton Orr's 12th career goal in his first game back in which he only had 2:59 of playing time.
Colton is known for great hands that are mainly for his boxing skills instead of his scoring skills. In this play, he looks like he can hardly keep his balance, and it's kind of like watching house league skating and balance, and he finally puts the puck in.
It was actually an important although improbably goal. I don't think Ron Wilson is planning on moving him up to even the fourth line on a regular basis. He has a role and scoring isn't it.
He's a specialty player, the team fighter and if they were looking at it from any other way, Aulie would be up and Orr down.
James Riemer Good Is Great Enough
James Reimer was brilliant through the first two-and-a-half periods. He let in five goals in the third period which is quite a lot for Reimer, and he still got the win. Four of the goals came in the last 10 minutes. Alfredsson, Spezza, Alfredsson were three of them all special teams goal.
I am sure the adage should be don't let Alfredsson near the goal alone. And I am equally sure the game plan which worked through the first fifty was to shut Alf down. But the Leafs got running around a bit defensively in the last 10 minutes and the goals resulted.
Reimer has the second most shots against in the NHL mainly because of the 1st and 3rd period against the Canadiens. He save percentage is still .932 which means nothing this time of year but would be a great stat at Christmas.
The point that everyone makes about Reim's is he is steady mentally and ready physically, and how he rebounds in the next game against Calgary after a seven day rest will certainly be a great indicator.
Amazing Pounding Schenns Face Keeps Running into Neils Fists
Luke Schenn and Chris Neil go at this again. This time Neil instigates it, and while Schenn can't back down this getting to be a regular thing between Schenn and Neil.
Luke Schenn's first NHL fight was a losing round to Neil on October 25th, 2008. In the first fight, Neil had kneed Stajan and Luke went right after Neil. In Round 2 on Nov 17th, 2009, Neil crashed Schenn's face into boards, and then Schenn went after him again.
In this fight, Neil obviously retaliating on the hit on Stephen Da Costa by Dion Phaneuf he glides right over to the Schenner and pushes him and then pounds him.
This is a case where referee's ought to be able to not give matching penalties as Luke got 5 minutes for being pounded on—as opposed to any real fighting.
Luke is not a fighter per say, but he does get in a couple of brush ups a year. Neil is primarily known for fist-a-cuffs. While a good fight once in-a-while by two equally measured combatants brings in the crowds and adds a sporty moment to dull games this Enforcer beating on Defensive Star ought to bring with it some kind of secondary punishment by Sheriff Shanahan.
Neutral Fighting is fun—a regular guy against a regular guy—enforcer to enforcer but this enforcer to regular guy is just annoying. Even Sid the Kid has had the occasional scrap it keeps him from being to gentrified, but this type of Schennanigans unnecessarily risks the stars of the league.
Fighting can stay, but it needs to be fair.
Lombardi Makes a Crazy Return to the Leafs
Matthew Lombardi is amazing that he has returned. Lombardi as we all know was originally a Calgary Flame. He has since been traded around for the last few years passing through Phoenix Coyotes and the Nashville Predators. Then he suffered a concussion in preseason last year and sat out the year.
Concussions are unpredictable. Ask Sidney Crosby.
Brian Burke rolled the salary cap dice and plucked out Lombardi. Remember you have to pay for long term disability under the cap rules.
Burke said when questioned about Lombardi that "this is a player we are willing to take the risk on" (see video link at end of article)
It is a risk that seems to be paying off over the two games as the Leafs can take scoring as many additional short-handed goals or additional Phil Kessel assists as he would like to give.
What is impressive so far with Lombardi is that he has a goal and assist in two games, and he is doing it with nominal ice time. While he is on the ice he has been among the most consistent players on the little things.
He is hitting and taking passes well, he is finding and creating free space, and he moves the puck through the center. With all this he has been playing about 10 or 11 minutes a game. But his ice time is sure to increase if he keeps playing this way.
Matt Lombardi has consistent point scorer in the NHL, and it looks like Burke's risk is working out.
Brian Burke on Lombardi.
Captain Phaneuf Finally Looks in Charge of His Team
Dion Phaneuf was a big acquisition from the Calgary Flames. With the flames he produced 45 or more points for each of the first four seasons and was run out of town for only producing 22 points in his last season. When added to his leaf total he was still a 32 point player.
But Big Dion is back with the huge goal against Montreal Canadiens and a big hit on Da Costa.
When Dion is running at his best he is taking 3-4 shots per game, he is making big hits, he is taking 100 minutes a year in penalties. He is being the leader. He is running the team his way.
When you listen to him on post game interviews he is methodical and scientific in his responses as if each one were about to cure cancer, but on the ice, he has made the Air Canada Center his office.
At the game the other night, I was surprised to see a good percentage of the leafs phans wearing the Phaneuf shirt. At first, I thought it was because the ACC faithful would where the captains shirt if the office was held by Mickey Mouse. But I have come to realize in these last two games that Dion has slowly but surely taken over the team.
Finally, these few first games the real Phaneuf stood up and took charge. He is captain of the Leafs and of Leafs Nation. Engage!
Amazingly the Leafs Might Soon Win the Cup
With these wild and crazy Leafs up and coming they can work on making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup.
The last time the leafs won the Stanley Cup Neil Armstrong had not walked on the Moon.
The fax machine, cell phones, microwave ovens, cassette tapes and colour tv were all either not invented or not in common use.
The last time the Leafs won the cup, it was shown in black and white.
Hopefully, the new team can bring us up to date and put some colour and the cup back in Leafs Nation.