The Leafs fail to capitalize on another golden opportunity to grab 2 early season points, but really, it was the most exciting game so far this season.
The Boys in Blue never quit, never laid down. Everyone who needed to score did just that, Versteeg, Bozak and Kulemin all digging hard manages to drive it home. Kulemin’s patience, hands and reflexes led to an absolute beauty to open the scoring. With any luck this means he has finally hit his groove, and as seen at the end of last season, Kulemin in a groove is a worth the price of admission.
It also seems that Bozak is getting the message, you will not remain on the top line unless you are willing to play up to the task. Even with no other real options Wilson stuck Bozak on checking duty for the opening stages of the game. But when the team was pressing hard for the lead he came up big with the go-ahead marker midway through the 3rd on the power play.
This was the first time the top lines have shown a consistent effort to crash and bang around the net all season. They have shows it at times, but seems to get frustrated if the puck stays out and abandon the net and let the pressure off by cycling the puck out of danger in an attempt to score pretty goals. The problem is that if the opponent knows they don’t need to worry about the front of the net they have a much easier time shutting down all other options. When you show willingness to press hard to the net the defending teams need to adjust to manage the extra presence, which opens up the ice for those types of goals. And sometimes, those scrambles result in goals or great opportunities, as they did last night. This is what they need to keep doing if they plan to compete this year.
Defensively the team is mostly secure at even strength, but the odd gaff happens. Last night the PK (now 24th in the league) really hurt. Random bounces to the stick of a 40goal player don’t help much either.
Overall it was a great game to watch with a great comeback, busted slumps and a single point when there could have been none. Not a win, but still could have been a lot worse, however when you keep Ovechkin without a shot for elongated periods of time, you always have a chance.