Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Globe Sports

Leafs Beat

A blog on all things Toronto Maple Leafs

Entry archive:

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer gestures after defeating the Boston Bruins during their NHL hockey game in Toronto March 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (MIKE CASSESE)
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer gestures after defeating the Boston Bruins during their NHL hockey game in Toronto March 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (MIKE CASSESE)

Leafs Beat

Leafs bounce back against Bruins Add to ...

It would be hard to make a game this bizarre up.

But there it was out on the ice on Saturday night, with the Toronto Maple Leafs looking like world-beaters against the Boston Bruins, wiring four goals on 14 shots past the Vezina Trophy favourite and adding another for good measure on the backup before 40 minutes was up.

More related to this story

The result was a convincing 5-2 win for a Leafs team that was believed to be out of gas and out of the playoff race after a particularly ugly 4-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Two days later, they were suddenly pretty lively against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Not that the Bruins looked that way on this night.

Making matters weirder was just who was doing the damage for Toronto, as the Leafs' five goal scorers had a combined eight all season coming into the game. Secondary scoring, which has been an issue all year, was all they had in this one - and it was more than enough.

Stay-at-home defenceman Luke Schenn scored on an end-to-end rush. Rookie Nazem Kadri finally netted his first career NHL goal, 21 games in, after a long shot deflected off a Bruins defender in front.

Third-line winger Joey Crabb - with a goal and two assists on the night - looked, briefly, like an all-star instead of a fellow clinging to an NHL roster spot.

And then fourth-liner Mike Brown did one better, blasting past former Leaf Tomas Kaberle and beating goaltender Tim Thomas five-hole to chase him from the game.

Temporarily.

Backup Tuukka Rask didn't fare much better, as Keith Aulie, another stay-at-homer for those keeping track, floated his second career goal, six games after his first, in from the point (despite the fact he has just 25 shots on goal after 31 games).

"I think that's the definition right there of goal scoring by committee," Schenn said. "Everyone kind of chipping in. Some unlikely guys tonight."

The young Bruins goalie berated one of his defenceman afterwards - something likely noted by coach Claude Julien - and to start the third, Rask was out and Thomas was in, although down 5-1 at that point, it hardly mattered.

There were even some fisticuffs thrown in, too, with Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf bloodying Nathan Horton in the pair's second tussle this season.

He didn't return to the game.

It was that kind of night for Boston.

"Defensively we were terrible," Julien said. "We were a team looking for an easy win and we wanted to win the game without putting the work in ... There's no easy games this time of year."

"What you'd call the third and fourth lines were really good tonight," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said, praising the line of Crabb, Kadri and Darryl Boyce - who left with an upper-body injury - the most after the game.

It was hard to say if the Leafs were that good or the Bruins - who fell to 1-3-3 in their past seven and are in real danger of being passed by the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead - were that bad, but it was a strange one all right.

And that's without even mentioning that the Bruins have the Leafs' first overall pick and the Leafs, in turn, have the Bruins'.

Or that Brett Lebda was plus-3.

Could be the super moon?

Just about the only thing that made a lot of sense was the play of Leafs netminder James Reimer, who has answered his critics in a big way in his last two starts and was again terrific against the Bruins with his team out shot 37-29.

"We stuck to it and we played one of our best games as far as what the coaches asked," Reimer said.

"He came up big for us," Schenn said. "It could have been different at times in the game if he wasn't there."

Toronto didn't gain any ground in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with the win, merely keeping pace with the Buffalo Sabres as they, too, won on Saturday, beating up an Atlanta Thrashers team that has been kicked around an awful lot in the second half.

With nine games to play, the Leafs now have 74 points - matching last season's total - after 73 games, an 83-point pace that will have to pick up considerably to get them in.

Eight more games like this one would probably do it - although it's hard to imagine there'll be another quite like it anytime soon.

Kaberle's return

One of the game's many sidebars was the return of Kaberle, who the Leafs dealt to Boston on Feb. 18 and was playing his first ever game as a visitor at the Air Canada Centre.

It wasn't one to remember on the ice for the veteran defenceman, who was minus-1 in 20 minutes of ice time, but he enjoyed an ovation from the crowd when a short tribute was played on the scoreboard.

"It was very nice from the fans," Kaberle said. "They've been really good supporters during my 12 years here. It was really emotional, obviously. I have to say thanks to them. They've been our seventh player always and I have lots of memories here.

"It's tough, obviously it's the first game. I never thought it was going to be this tough. Not only on the ice, but you've got a lot of friends watching. A lot of things run through your head. I'm kind of glad it's over."

As he had for years before the trade, Kaberle told Hockey Night in Canada before the game that he had wanted to stay in Toronto. An extension was never ultimately discussed with Leafs management.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories