It's been 3 games since the Leafs made the big trades for Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere last Sunday. And aside from the final 3 minute meltdown against New Jersey Friday night the team has looked very very good.
Again last night the Leafs put on a very strong performance against a team who seemed unbeatable since the return of Daniel Alfredsson. Since Alfie's return to the line-up the Sens had been on an 11 game winning streak (the first win came the game before his return).
Last night Dion Phaneuf got his first point as a Maple Leaf assisting on the first of 2 Phil Kessel goals. It was a PP goal with the big guns contributing, Kessel from Phaneuf and Kaberle. Sjostrom also got his 2nd point as a Leaf in 3 games assisting the first of 2 by Luke Schenn. The other assist came from Rickard Wallin (who seems to have a little more confidence after scoring against New Jersey). This game also marked the first multi-goal game for the young blueliner. Schenn also added an assist on Tyler Bozak's 2nd of the season.
Even more importantly than the Leafs somehow mustering 5 goals was the fact that Giguere stopped another 30 shots for his 2nd shut-out in only 2 games played. Giggy has made the big saves when called upon (which hasn't been often thanks to good defensive zone play). It's incredibly impressive to post a shut-out in the first 2 games a a Leaf, but he can't keep it up forever. Unfortunately he'll have to let one in, but for now let's be happy we have a goalie capable of posting a shut-out. Veteran leadership and experience really does go a long way.
I know there's lots of Leafs fans who are jumping up and down at the way the 3 players we got in last Sunday's trades have been playing. And there is no reason to not be happy with these last 3 games. However, I do caution you as to being too excited. The faces are still fresh and the remaining players are still hyped up to play with new guys. I'm afraid that once Phaneuf, Sjostrom and Giguere settle in the play may get sloppy again in our own zone. I that happens we're lucky enough to have a goalie who is capable of bailing us out on a nightly basis, and a back-up in Gustavsson who is as reliable in shorter bursts. The competence in goal is probably the biggest spark the Leafs got from the trades. I just hope it holds out long enough to crawl out of the bottom 5 in the NHL.
It's great to see some scoring appear. 11 goals in 3 games isn't too shabby. But I again caution to get overly excited. While it's great to see our future contributing (Kessel, Phaneuf, Bozak, Schenn, Kulemin), they are still all fairly young and will go through some slumps. I just hope these slumps don't all come at once because even though we have more solid goaltending now, we still need offense.
Like every Leaf fan I'm happy the honeymoon with Phaneuf, Sjostrom and Giguere didn't end after game one. And I hope it lasts for a long time. But for the 3rd time I caution you in getting overly excited about the longevity of the honeymoon because it does have to end at some time...doesn't it? Eventually yes, but at least for now we can be pleased with the results Brian Burke has created.
On the topic of Brian Burke I'd like to send out my deepest condolences and sympathies for the loss of Brendan. As much as I'd like to see a few more moves with the Leafs before the Olympics I hope you spend as much time with your family as possible. They are the main priority at this point.
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