So while I don’t put much stock in these games, it was significant that the Leafs were able to come from behind and win a game that keeps them in a promising position in the Eastern Conference standings. Too often in the past they played to the level of their opposition (well, they did again Tuesday night, in truth) and lost games that should have been in their grasp. So perhaps this is another small sign of progress.
While Lupul’s big goals and some other industrious play (once the blue and white got their skating legs in the second of a road-and-back-home back-to-back) were obviously key, for me, the night was about Scrivens. 42 shots and beaten only twice, and at that, both on deflections off the skate of his own defensemen. He staked his claim to stay in the hunt for the number-one job. While I’m a Reimer enthusiast and feel he should be the ‘guy’ based on his three years with the team, what he has overcome and his body of work this season, I like that Scrivens is fighting for his time, too. We need to have two goalies that can win games for us down the stretch and into the playoffs, just like we’ll need to be ten-deep (which we are right now) on defense if we expect to advance come playoff time.
Both Scrivens and Reimer are motivated guys and both compete hard even on the nights when they are not on their “A” game. For me, that’s impressive—and important.
Could these guys lead us to a Stanley Cup? I don’t quite believe that, but I do think they are fully capable of getting us to the playoffs and once there, we’ll see what they’ve got. But they have done everything we could ask of them for the most part this season. You may recall I wrote a week or so ago that one (or both) of Reimer and Scrivens had an opportunity to really shine and run with the job during this important stretch of games. So far, both are doing that, and longer-term, it sure would help put an end to another summer of talk about what the Leafs need to do in goal, which, let’s face it, can get tiring.
I recognize that the Panthers are nowhere near an elite team right now, but the Leafs won, and at this point, even sloppy wins are better than a loss. Bozak was instrumental in both Lupul markers, as was Kessel. Ryan Hamilton contributed 15 good minutes. Phaneuf scored, Gardiner had a lot of jump from the back end, though he was exposed in his own zone again as he has been on occasion in recent games (this time on Florida’s second goal). The Leafs blocked some shots in the final minutes and Scrivens did the rest.
They’ve now come through a busy stretch, and played some good teams—and some not-so-good opponents. But they earned 8 points out of 10 in the last five games, if I’m not mistaken. And that’s nothing to sneeze at, considering teams the Leafs are jockeying for position with are also feeling the pressure of a playoff chase.
Now do you believe the playoffs are there for us?