An Ugly Second
Let's just say the euphoria has, um, evaporated.
For the Leafs tonight against the Habs, down 6-1 after two periods, its now just about saving some face. And keeping the score in single digits.
After going 18-17-6 at home last year, the Leafs are going to have to do something about the fact they are a weak home team right now. Looking at their respective lineups, you'd expect the Habs to be a much better team than Toronto, and they are. But just like last year, the Leafs seem to get no jump out of playing at the ACC, but rather seem to panic when things go lousy, turning defeat into humiliation.
Montreal had the best power play in the league last season and the Leafs' penalty killing ranked 29th out 30 teams, and it looks so far like not much has changed. The Canadiens scored three goals at extra-strength, two with Matt Stajan serving a double minor for high-sticking and one with Luke Schenn off for flipping the puck over the glass. Game 2 is definitely proving to be more challenging than Game 1 for the kid.
Stajan just looks lost, as does Alex Steen, and it was the same for both in Detroit on Thursday. If the Leafs were hoping the two would be leaders this season, they've got to be sadly disappointed.
The line switching began late in the second. Nikolai Kulemin was moved beside Mikhail Grabovski and Niklas Hagman, replacing Jiri Tlusty. Tlusty was shifted to a line with John Mitchell and Jason Blake, while Steen jumped on to a line with Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
It's an interesting call now for Ron Wilson - let Curtis Joseph relieve Toskala for the third, or let Toskala finish up. I'd give Joseph a period.
Jaroslav Halak, meanwhile, has been very strong for the Habs. This guy's a good goalie, and he may give Carey Price a challenge for playing time before this season is over.