(Ben Scrivens hasn’t allowed a goal in 144:51)
Forward lines: van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel, Komarov-Grabovski-Kulemin, MacArthur-Kadri-Orr, McLaren-Brown-McClement.
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Hozer, Gunnarsson-Kostka, Franson-Fraser
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Win, 60:00 minutes played, 37 saves, 0 GA), Rynnas (0:00)
The latest rumour circulating Toronto is that the Leafs are actually – what’s the word?….good.
The expected collapse of Nazem Kadri under the scrutiny of whether he can play in the NHL hasn’t happened. Nor has the team wilted from an anticipated deficiency of scoring when Joffrey Lupul went down and Phil Kessel couldn’t find the net.
Most of all, critics – including yours truly – who guffawed at Randy Carlyle’s suggestion that the team had NHL quality goaltending are starting to eat crow after Ben Scrivens posted a 3-0 shutout over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
For Scrivens, it was his second consecutive shutout after blanking the Senators two nights earlier, extending his streak to 144 minutes and 51 seconds in which he has not allowed a goal. Not that Scrivens was given a night off, despite the Panthers’ offensive struggles. Once again given a notoriously characteristic sluggish Leafs start in front of him, the goalkeeper was forced to make several timely saves. 14 of his 37 stops came in the first period.
Up front the aforementioned Kadri was stellar in collecting two points to extend his team-leading total to 14 (five goals, nine assists). Within a span of 1:44 in the second period, Kadri had a power-play goal and then set up Clarke MacArthur with a tape-to-tape pass for a highlight reel marker.
And, did we mention Kessel? The target of many trade rumours during a 10-game goal famine, Kessel wired a rocket of a shot at which Florida netminder Jose Theodore could only marvel. After receiving a pass and streaking down his left (off-)wing, the sniper found the top corner on the short side, displaying a talent usually reserved for Olympians such as himself.
Not to be outdone, pugilists Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren contributed to the team’s fight total by engaging in a scrap apiece. Orr’s tilt with George Parros avenged a punch-up that ended the Leaf winger’s season in 2011. The Leafs have 17 fighting majors this year, a mark which will hold up alongside Columbus atop the league, provided that the Blue Jackets take a night off from fisticuffs.
The victory was the Leafs’ 10th of the year and seventh on the road. Anyone who predicted that the team would have attained those marks after just 16 games, with Lupul and James Reimer sidelined, must have traveled from the future in a DeLorean at 88 miles an hour.
Toronto continues their road trip in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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