The Toronto Maple Leafs and James Reimer were able to convincingly beat a sluggish Penguins squad that looked to be cruising on the coat tails of Malkin and Crosby. James Neal wasn't much of a factor at all as once again the leafs defensive zone coverage was very good at limiting second chances and forcing a rushed pass in most cases, which lead to many turnovers. Reimer was inspirational at times and though he let a couple of "questionable goals"(which Darren Pang attribted to technical adjustements That St. Croix is in the process of changing) he kept the team in it and made some big game saves to squander any momentum that the Pens had began to build.
The line of Grabo JVR and Kuleman attacked with speed and had the pens on the run all night long, and Nikolai Kuleman Had one of his best games ever as his offensive ability seemed to return last night. Kuleman would drive wide then he'd drive the net hard and none of the Pens D-men could handle the feisty young forward. He went on to record three assists for his efforts, this is a very good sign for the leafs who, must have been puzzled by his offensive regression last year. JVR showcased his rocket of a wrist shot and gave us all a glimpse of what he really is capable of.
It would seem as though Carlyle's hard nosed approach is paying off, he has raisde the level accountability and the defensive zone coverage is the best I have ever witnessed as a leaf fan.(30+yrs) this makes me giddy... no really. If the leafs can compete like this every night, they have a great shot at the playoffs. I just hope that he can teach Dion Phaneuf how to turn around without stopping and allowing everything to blow past him like he's standing still. That really is his most glaring weakness as every night someone exposes his inablity to turn to the outside while keeping square to the forward. This has been his only real flaw as a defencemen his whole career, he used to hide this better because he would just run guys over. Now with the newer rules he can't hit guys after they chip the puck past him because it's more often than not called interference. Dion did make two or three great defensive plays in front of James Reimer that prevented a couple of extra Crosby goals.
What a great effort it was forwards are backchecking EVERY shift and and supporting their men down low. They have outworked all three of their first opponents and should really be 3-0, regardless they are playing with inspiration and finally appear ready for the next step.