Toronto Maple Leafs Defeat Lame Ducks
Heading into Sunday nights tilt against the Anaheim Ducks there was a lot of talk about the return of Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner, the two players Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke received from the Ducks in the Francois Beauchemin deal.
While Gardiner never really got a taste with the Ducks organization, Lupul watched as numerous players moved up the Ducks depth chart while injuries and a lack of belief in the former Anaheim first round (seventh overall) pick conspired to put Lupul on the back burner in Anaheim.
As the saying goes, “one mans garbage is another mans treasure” and Lupul and Gardiner have been just that for the Maple Leafs, treasure.
Heading into Sunday nights action Lupul had 11 goals and 27 points through 23 games, while Gardiner has slowly established himself as a legitimate top-four defenseman with tremendous upside.
Meanwhile, through 50 games since re-joining the Ducks, Beauchemin has registered six goals and seven assists for a total of 13 points to go along with a minus-4 rating in 2010-11 and his current minus-7 rating through 23 games with the Ducks this season.
To say Burke won this trade would be an understatement, especially when you consider that Lupul is looking like an all-star (sitting third overall in points with 29). Lupul’s 11 goals on the season ranks him 12th overall, a fact that’s not likely lost on the Ducks.
When you consider Lupul’s considerable injury list and the fact that he had played just 49 games over the two seasons prior to joining the Maple Leafs Lupul’s accomplishments this season are just incredible.
Many pundits felt Lupul could be a legitimate 30 goal-scorer, 70-point man at the NHL level, a feat he is yet to achieve, but may very well accomplish this season.
Fast forward to last nights game between the Leafs and Ducks and Lupul continued to do what he has done all season long, registering two assists, setting up sophomore forward Tyler Bozak on both occasions.
Bozak’s two goals gave him six on the season. Bozak’s ability to play on any line has been well documented this season, causing many critics to take back what was being said about the young forward over the summer.
Bozak’s two goals helped pace the Maple Leafs to a convincing 5-2 victory over the Ducks, giving the Buds a 3-1 record on their four game road trip, giving them the lead in the Northeast Division.
With starter James Reimer out with concussion-like symptoms for over a month now, Toronto needed one of Gustavsson or Ben Scrivens to step up. While Gus did struggle at first, he looks to have found his stride, which is a huge relief for the Maple Leafs and a huge reason the Buds are where they are in the standings.
For Anaheim, last night’s loss extended their winless streak to seven games (0-6-1) causing many fans to call for head coach Randy Carlyle to be fired.
Anaheim’s big guns (Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf) continue to dominate on most nights, but the Ducks’ secondary scoring from Bobby Ryan (seven goals, 11 points), Andrew Cogliano (five goals, nine points) and Saku Koivu (four goals, seven points), has been inconsistent, while goaltender Jonas Hiller has struggled to find his game, posting a 5-10-4 record to go along with his lofty 3.22 goals against average and paltry .897 save percentage.
While the firing of Carlyle may be the answer for many fans, it appears as if the Ducks woes are more of an on-ice personnel issue, as opposed to a coaching issue.
Next up for the Maple Leafs will be a tough test against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The Bruins have torched the Maple Leafs for thirteen goals against in their previous two meetings, besting the Buds by a 13-2 margin.
Tyler Seguin has been a Maple Leafs killer, as has goaltender Tim Thomas, who always plays well against the Buds.
With a record of 14-8-2 on the season nobody in Leafland is complaining. That said, another big loss to the Bruins will likely see the boo-birds come out at the Air Canada Centre as Maple Leaf fans are all but fed up of listening to the “thank you Kessel” chants from Bruins’ fans.
As great as Seguin (12 goals, 23 points, +14 rating through 22 games) has been, Kessel continues to sit atop the NHL scoring leaders with 16 goals, 31 points, +4 rating) through 24 games.
The battle between Kessel and Seguin has never been personal, but given the circumstances with which the two players find themselves with their current organizations the comparisons, fairly or unfairly, will rage on from here to eternity.
Until next time,