October 17, 2011
Grabovski line comes through
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
TORONTO - So much for 82-0.
Then again, perfection wasn’t about to come from a team that was far from perfect on Monday night.
In reality, the 3-0-1 Maple Leafs should be grateful that they were able to salvage a point in their 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Air Canada Centre.
For the past few games, the Leafs have relied far too much on the sizzling Phil Kessel, who notched his sixth goal in the past three outings on Monday.
All the while, as the Kessel-Tyler Bozak-Joffrey Lupul unit was carrying the team, Mikhail Grabovski’s line was struggling.
Entering play against the Avs, Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin had accounted for one point each while Clarke MacArthur had zero. Keep in mind that MacArthur missed the opening two games due to suspension.
At least the Grabovski line started to come out of hibernation versus Colorado. After Kulemin rang a shot off the iron in the second period, he scored the equalizer with 4:43 remaining in regulation, with MacArthur chipping in with an assist.
If the Leafs want to make the playoffs this season, this line must be more consistent and step up. Should Kessel get into one of those scoring funks that has plagued him in the past, the Grabovski line will be needed to fill the offensive void.
If you want to look at the glass as half full, Kulemin’s goal netted them a valuable point, giving them seven through four games.
“We needed to step up and help out,” MacArthur said. “I felt in the second period we could have had three goals. We hit a post and I missed an empty net.
“It’s coming. We made some good little plays.”
Ron Wilson only hopes they can keep it up.
The Foster Hewitt Media Gondola at the Air Canada Centre always is a popular spot for league scouts but there were more than usual on hand on Monday night. All in all, 17 teams were represented including scouts from the Bruins, Stars, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Canucks, Islanders, Jets, Ducks, Lightning, Coyotes, Rangers, Predators, Capitals, Hurricanes, Canadiens and Senators. The Leafs are said to be trying to peddle some of their depth on the blue line in exchange for some help up front. Not connecting any dots here but ... Upon hearing a TV report suggesting Toronto might be interested in veteran Dallas forward Brendan Morrow, a Leaf executive laughed, then said: “Where do (they) get this stuff?”
SNOOZING MEANS LOSING
For the second consecutive game the Leafs came out as if they were asleep. On Saturday they gave up two goals in the first six minutes against the Calgary Flames. Just 48 hours later versus the Avs, the Leafs spent the majority of the game’s first two minutes in their own end. It was so bad that John Michael Liles, who started the game, ended up having a shift that lasted 1:50 before dragging himself to the bench ... Minutes later, rookie Matt Frattin had a two-foot putt that would have given him his first NHL goal. He missed ... Both Joffrey Lupul and Kulemin got their share of iron in their respective diets, each hitting the post behind J-S Giguere ... Sloppy play by the Leafs defence was lethal against the speedy Avs, with Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf each guilty of bad giveaways near their own blueline.
THE JIGGY IS UP
Giguere is as nice and as classy a guy as you’ll find in pro sports. Of course, that didn’t stop the normally-subdued Air Canada Centre crowd from booing when he was announced as the Avs’ starting goalie. What’s the deal, people? Bitter that the veteran goalie didn’t lead the Leafs to the playoffs during his 14-month stint in blue-and-white? This just in: The team’s woes last season cut much deeper than just the oft-injured Jiggy ... Watching Giguere again serves as a reminder of just how juicy those rebounds can be that bounce off his pads. Sometimes he kicks pucks into the slot like he’s some kind of Pele on blades. That’s what happened on Kulemin’s goal at 15:17 of the third that tied the game 2-2.
Among the notables in the house: Commissioner Gary Bettman and former Leaf captain Rick Vaive. Also said to be on hand: Doug Gilmour, who officially will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next month ... How’s this for a bad shift? Late in the second period, the Avs’ Cody McLeod took a Phaneuf missle off his foot, causing him to mometarily limp. Seconds later, he took a hooking minor. Maybe he just needed a break to rest his throbbing toes ... Lots of Matt Duchene jerseys sprinkled through the crowd. Duchene, a native of Haliburton, used to wear a screened mosquito hat in order to go outside and take shots during black fly season.