The Middle of the Ice
The Maple Leafs did a far better job of winning the battles for the puck. In addition, they stopped the Bruins from attacking the middle of the ice. The Florida-based NHL teams attacked the middle and exploited gaps in the Leafs defence. This time, the Leafs loaded up in the critical areas and the opportunities for Boston weren’t as open as they had been previously.
Bernier stands tall
Wednesday night saw serviceable work from the Leafs netminder. Returning to action after a bout with the flu, Bernier made saves when needed, particularly in the third period when the Bruins applied a lot of offensive zone pressure. While shootouts aren’t historically his strong point, Bernier shut the door on four of Boston’s five opportunities to backstop the Leafs to two points on the road. Happy returns.
Leo Komarov had an immediate effect in his return from injury. Early in the game, Komarov parked himself in the slot to receive a pass and scored the opening goal. His aggressive style has a trickledown effect on his teammates and he helped create more open ice for his linemates. The Leafs improved to 7-0-1 lifetime, when Leo Komarov scores a goal. Happy returns.
Kessel hits 500
Phil Kessel proves to be at his best when he takes on his former team. He was easily the best and most productive Leaf in terms of scoring and generating chances. In addition to his goal and an assist, he had several breakaway chances as well as a penalty shot. Kessel registered his 500th career NHL point with his goal in the second period. Here’s hoping number 81 keeps it rolling into 2015.
Resiliency helps the mojo
The Maple Leafs gave up a two-goal lead for the third consecutive game. Unlike the games in Florida, the Leafs battled their way through it and came out with the maximum reward — two points. A loss could have been devastating as the road trip continues on, but now the Leafs head into 2015 feeling good. There is better tape to take away from this game, and a New Years resolution that the Leafs can build on.