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One Of The Few Bright Spots

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Aren’t you glad that one didn’t count?

The Leafs fell 4-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

The loss evened the team’s preseason record at 1-1 and it came with the usual array of miscues, poor decisions and botched chances that flower in September. The crowning moment came on the Flyers fourth goal when Joe Colborne put a four foot pass on to the stick of the Flyers Sean Couturier much to the astonishment of Leafs goalie James Reimer minding his own business just a few feet away.

The Leafs didn’t get much going offensively, well the score tells you that, and it was left to Reimer to hold the bag for an ineffective night’s work by pretty well everyone.

“If you’re going to let in four goals, this is as good a time as any,” Reimer said and there was no denying that.

The most interesting sight of the day came in the pre-game skate when Mike Komisarek sat at his locker in his sweaty performance wear

Buddy looks good.

Hockey players guard their weight the way your grandmother bandies about her age. It’s not really a state secret. It’s much more important than that. They weigh themselves to the ounce and tell anyone who asks they have no idea how much they weigh.

It is this way with Komisarek, who was listed at 243 pounds last season but just can’t seem to get his memory to wrap around a number this time around.

In his third year with the Leafs, Komisarek has battled injuries and struggled on a bad team.  The Leafs, you may have heard, are choked with defencemen and going into the season Komisarek was and is facing a challenge from Carl Gunnarsson.  It looks like five spots will be devoted to Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie, last year’s go-to pairing. Luke Schenn and John-Michael Liles are locks as well. Cody Franson played top four minutes on a good defence last year in Nashville so there is no reason to think he won’t be in the top three pairings.

Assuming rookies James Blacker and Jake Gardiner don’t beat the odds, that leaves Gunnarsson, a top four guy last season and Mike Komisarek.

Komisarek was never fat. He was huge, six foot three and big as life. It has long been accepted that if you play defence and the way around you spans a few time zones and you can crush aluminum cans with your eyebrows, you are on the right track.

“I’m still strong,” said Komisarek.

The difference? Diet.

Specifically, the diet his girlfriend has researched, prepared and encouraged. Her name isn’t anyone’s business. I’m not even sure that her existence is anybody’s business but the fact is Komisarek has the body fat of a radish so Mike’s girlfriend has already showed much more influence on the local hockey scene than you or me.

Fruit. Vegetables. No gluten. Did we mention the fruit and veggies? Meat in moderation, sugar doled out by the grain. Home-made smoothies, the whole shooting match.

“It’s a testament to her,” he said.

Damned if Mike Komisarek didn’t look like a whole new player Tuesday against the Flyers. He wasn’t on the ice for an even strength goal against. Arrive ill-tempered Brian Burke likes to say. Komisarek does, just a little bit sooner. He played 21 minutes.

“I thought Mike played well tonight,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “This should be good for his confidence going forward.”

More bright spots? Well, you couldn’t blame Reimer for anything.  The Tim Connolly experiment on the point resulted in neither a spectacular man advantage or a memorable misplay. In his first game as a Leaf, Connolly was unremarkable. Pretty well everyone was unremarkable.

Notes: Maybe for the first time ever, two brother acts shared the ice as Brayden and Luke Schenn as well as Blake and Phil Kessel took their turns. It was likely a nice night for their parents but nothing came out of it on the ice. … The Leafs will make their first round of cuts Wednesday. They have a rematch with the Flyers Wednesday night. It will be the club’s third game in three nights…Nice night for Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. He takes home a shutout by stopping 27 Leaf shots…Franson said it’s harder than it looks to switch from the right to the left defence. “It just takes a little more time to move things from your backhand to your forehand in certain situations,” he said. The other Flyers scorers for the night were Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds, Mike Testwuide…Wilson noted the death of close friend Igor Korolev was probably affecting young Russian speaking Mikhaill Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Korolev lived in Toronto and was a mentor to countless players from Russia and the old Soviet bloc…Colborne will get another look Wednesday in Philadelphia. So will Schenn who finished minus two…Nazem Kadri did nothing to diminish his chances of gaining the third-line left wing job coming out of camp, at least until Matt Lombardi returns from a concussion. “I’m quite pleased with what he’s doing,”  Wilson said. “He’s making smart decisions and he’s a bit of a pest.”

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