A Tale of Two Games
Leafs 6 v. Hurricanes 1: Relentless
Secondary scoring carried the day in this game, as Ninja noted, because the top two lines played the Hurricanes big guns to a standstill. Carrying on from three great (mostly) games against the top two teams in the east the Leafs established their forecheck early and used it to cause numerous turnovers. Again, most teams in the conference do not have the size to deal with the top line or the skill to make breakout passes under pressure, at least not throughout their defence corps. When the buds can get this part of their game going the opposition, especially teams that rely on speed and quick puck movement, struggle to create the chances off the rush that fuel their offence. This game gave the Leafs the season series with a 3-1 mark.Leafs 2 v. Thrashers 3 (OT): Crap
Boyd Devereauxclearly did something wrong to someone on the Thrashers in some past lifetime because he was getting run all over the ice. Unfortunately, it was the pattern of the game. No one from the Leafs outside of the usual suspects (Carlo and Kilger) replied in kind. The Leafs certainly created enough chances to win but as in so many losses the finish was not present. In the end, they let themselves get beat on a terrible penalty call after the defence had lost track of Kovalchuk! The worst part were the two blown calls on Pohl (before) and Sundin (after) that the referees apparently missed.
I have noticed that the referees have been missing more calls, letting more go, and calling more useless penalties (player reaches out stick, taps puck carrier, gets called for hooking). I imagine that it will only get worse in the playoffs. The loss (and thank God for that point) gave the season series 3-1 to the Thrashers a year after the Leafs swept them. This sets up the Leafs for a huge (and rare) Saturday/Sunday back-to-back with the Penguins and Rangers. Head over to the BoO for in-game comments.