Two games, two wins on the road, two different goalies with impactful performances to help get the Leaf season off on the right foot. This short-term “success” of course will lead to no end of water-cooler discussion about how Carlyle should proceed—as in, does one of these guys deserve to be “number-one” or should the coach continue to rotate netminders and give them both a number of games in, say, the first quarter of the season to determine who will indeed be the ‘go-to’ goalie the rest of the way.
Carlyle’s off-stated “win and you’re in” philosophy is well documented. At the moment, that approach poses a problem, as neither Reimer or Bernier has lost so far in this very young NHL season. My sense is most Leaf followers are just glad we have two capable individuals at that key position and would have no issue with Carlyle giving both guys an opportunity to play a lot. While I’ve long questioned how this arrangement will work over time, for now, if both play well, I hope both will play plenty—and stay healthy.
Do you feel the same?
A few observations from the game in Philly:
- How many times do you see one team draws seven penalties to a lone infraction against the other side? I’m not suggesting bias on the part of officials. The Leafs play an edgy style and I don’t doubt they will draw a lot of penalties this season. But the ratio just seems a bit off.
- On that note, other than Raymond losing a battle along the boards on the first power play opportunity of the night for the Flyers (and he and Bolland looking a bit lost when the Flyers scored) we can’t argue with a PK unit that shut down the Flyers from that point on.
- Bernier looked cool—and solid. Really good, in fact. His penalty shot save with three seconds to go in the second stanza was the lift his teammates needed after Ranger was called for his diving trip. After Philly had scored in the dying seconds of the opening frame, a second last-second goal could have been somewhat demoralizing.
- If the first two games are any indication, Phaneuf won’t just be blasting the puck wildly this season. On opening night, he scored on a gorgeous wrist shot. And on Wednesday night, another Phaneuf wrist shot (much weaker, but on goal) allowed Kadri to crash the crease and Kessel to convert a rebound from the slot That play helped change the momentum in the contest.
- I was going to suggest that Bolland has looked a tad snakebit in his early days with the Leafs. But before the thought fully settled in my mind and I began to think maybe he simply isn’t a finisher, he was able to redirect a neat Lupul set-up for what turned out to be the winning goal. Kulemin deserves credit for starting the play from behind the Flyer net.
- Ranger looks to be (understandably) working out a some kinks in his game at times after a few years away from the NHL, but he sure gives max effort. He may well become a fan favourite in the days ahead (something not many Leaf defenseman can claim…). I sense that fans appreciate he has had a long road back.
- If I saw correctly, Bolland, Lupul and Kulemin were on the ice for a key face-off in the Flyers zone with about 35 seconds to go to protect a one-goal lead, though the Leafs had a power play. Bolland scored again to clinch the game.
- Gunnarsson quietly played more than 25 minutes and I didn’t mention him until now. That’s probably a good sign.
Two games, four points. Home opener Saturday night against the hated Sens. Where was the Leiweke parade route again?