Leafs vs. Bolts: After 20 minutes
This, it's fair to say, is not the same Maple Leaf team that outskated the Senators and Bruins last week.
At least not yet. While they did pound 17 shots at beleaguered Tampa goalie Mike Smith in the first period, the Leafs find themselves behind 2-1 against arguably the league's worst team.
Both Tampa goals were the results of Leaf coverage errors. On the first, Jussi Jokinen was left completely alone on the edge of the crease staring at an empty net, and on the second Vinny Lecavalier outmanoeuvred Tomas Kaberle to cleverly corral a long lead pass from Vinny Prospal before beating Vesa Toskala with one of those tricky, one-handed, around-the-goalie dekes.
Matt Stajan did all the work on the Leafs goal, first banging a Tampa defenceman off the puck, then banging away at a loose puck in the crease.
The Leafs should get lots of scoring chances as the night wears on. Last season, Tampa was 11th best in the league under John Tortorella for shots allowed, giving up just over 28 per game. This season under Barry Melrose, the Bolts are giving up more than 37 shots a game, worst in the NHL. Right now, the Leafs are on pace for 51.
Still no points for local boy Steven Stamkos in the first, and wouldn't this be a great place for the kid to get on the scoreboard for his first time as an NHLer? He's skating on a line with Ryan Malone and Adam Hall, but still not getting the ice time from Melrose that GM Brian Lawton would like to see.
Among the Leaf scratches is defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, and it sure looked like they could have used him on two unsuccessful 5-on-3 chances in the first period.
Toskala made his fourth start tonight, and eighth in nine games. Maybe Curtis Joseph gets the nod against Martin Brodeur Wednesday night in New Jersey.