Williams & White score to rally Leafs to 2-1 win at the HSBC
The Maple Leafs escaped from the House of Pain with two points tonight and, better yet, their two call-ups were superlative in the process. Jeremy Williams sniped his second in as many games from the half boards to even the game at ones late in the second frame before Ian White beat Ryan Miller with a seeing eye double to give the Leafs the edge in the third. Fellow call-up Jaime Sifers was a physical force on the blue-line, throwing a team-leading three hits and finishing second only to Jeff Finger in terms of ice-time (a resounding 21 minutes including 5 minutes of short-handed time). Sifers played a role in a critical penalty kill in the late stages.
Be sure to check out Scot Louck’s post-game thoughts below.
This was a game that hinged on the Leafs‘ success short-handed as the Blue and White went 4 for 4 in the penalty killing department including a double minor penalty kill late in the second/early in the third. A ton of credit should also be given to Vesa Toskala as the Finn was outstanding in stopping 25 of 26 shots. VeTo was there when needed most, particularly on the unremitting stream of 2-on-1s towards the early stages. Drew Staffords gaping-net miss should also be given due credit.
In addition to Sifers and Finger, White was fantastic in both ends of the ice. This trio in particular has keyed the Leafs‘ defensive turnaround of the past few games. The Leafs remain tied for the second most goals allowed in the league, but there’s been vast improvement in this area of their game over the course of the past eight contests. In that 4-3-1 stretch, the Leafs have only twice allowed more than two goals against.
I’ve been very pleased with Ron Wilson’s willingness to reward both Sifer’s and Williams’ play with increased ice-time and responsibility. 21 minutes for Sifers and 13 minutes for Williams (I thought this was just about right for Williams, he wasn’t overly visible but nonetheless contributed a vital goal). This is what re-building is all about, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson keeps these two around for the next while even if bodies continue to return to the line-up (Frogren is expected back Tuesday).
Mike Van Ryn came back in full bore tonight, playing 19 minutes fresh off his recovery. He didn’t appear to miss a beat. Nik Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski had particularly strong games. Kulemin’s showing more and more as the games progress.
I was particularly impressed with the way in which the Leafs closed out the win tonight. They didn’t slip back into a shell, they aggressively pursued the puck carrier and took the game by the horns in the late stages.
It’ll feel a little bizarre tomorrow with the Leafs idle on a Saturday night, but it provides the opportunity to not watch HNIC and laugh as their numbers hit an all-time low and as all the cries for the Leafs to be removed from prime time are silenced. I encourage you all to do the same.
Fist tap to PPP for the video:
Tonight’s Event Summary via NHL.com:
|TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS||G||A||P||+/-||PN||PIM||TOI||S||A/B||MS||HT||GV||TK||BS||FW||FL||F%|
|26||D||VAN RYN, MIKE||+1||19:26||28||00:41||03:21||04:43||11:22||4|