Leafs 2 v. Capitals 2: Mighty Mats Almost Makes It
Another game, another loss. The Leafs made this game much harder on themselves by once again being unable to capitalize on their powerplay chances while the Capitals scored 3 with the man advantage. The worst part about this game was that they had the game in control. The Leafs were playing a solid defensive game and were creating chances. If they had been able to kill penalties (paging Mr. Peca) then they would have been in much better shape. Of course, his 'icing' skills, as Harry Neale would put it, would have prevented a couple of goals since the first two came on plays where the Leafs were unable to clear the zone.
On the bright side of the ledger, Aleksander Suglobov played a wonderful game. For the first time he received over 11 minutes of ice and he made it count. He showed a willingness to backcheck (that was the mark against him earlier in the season) as well as the kind of offensive creativity that the Leafs have been lacking. On one great play he burst into the zone, deked one defender, drew the other to him, and slid a perfect pass to Stone Hands Kilger. The Peca injury could be the opening for Sugar to get into the lineup on a consistent basis.
Jeff O'Neill also had a barnburner on a line with Bates and Mats. All three were buzzing, hitting, and were the most consistently dangerous line for the Leafs. Carlo and Kubina largely had a good game together and Kaberle was his usual steady self. McCabe had a decent game, at one point he just missed putting Ovechkin through the boards with a hip check, but he blew the end of the game by letting a pass get past him and out of the zone.
In the end, the Leafs were undone by the individual skill of Ovechkin, Semin, and Zubrus. The bright side was the evidence that the Leafs might have another player with the skill to turn a game.
Having said that, Merry Christmas, Happy HanukKah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Ramadan (I know it's past but I never wished it), and Happy whatever you celebrate. All the best in the New Year. I'll be around over the holiday posting so if you are looking for something to do while lounging around the house with your recently received presents then stop by.