February 5, 2012
Gunnarsson one tough Swede
By Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
Nary a bruise was left on Carl Gunnarsson on Saturday night.
Only because of a little bit of luck, mind you.
The Maple Leafs defenceman blocked eight shots during a 5-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators, equalling the entire Sens team in that department.
In total, Gunnarsson has blocked 117 shots this season, the most among Leafs and a number that only six other NHLers had bettered going into Sunday’s games.
“It’s nothing I really think about during the game,” Gunnarsson said. “I guess (James Reimer) is not too happy because I am screwing up his save percentage.”
That’s unlikely, considering Reimer made 49 saves against Ottawa.
Luke Schenn is looking forward to hanging out with his younger brother, Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, before the Leafs’ game in Philly on Thursday night. The plan is for the brothers to hook up for dinner on Wednesday. Just don’t expect Luke to give Brayden a playful shot in the arm.
Understandably, Luke was concerned when Brayden went down hard after being tagged by Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils during a fight on Saturday afternoon in a game between the Flyers and Devils.
“For sure,” Luke said. “Even the guys on our team were asking if he was all right. A lot of guys saw it. He got hit pretty hard. I think people don’t realize how big and strong Kovalchuk is. He is probably 240 pounds and he threw him around pretty good.
“Of course, it worries me a lot when anyone gets it like that, but especially when it’s my little brother. You want to make sure he is all right. I talked to him a couple times and he said he was doing fine. I have to give him credit. He showed up and tried to help get the team going. He’s not much of a fighter.”
WATCH THE REPLAY
A day after Mikhail Grabovski set up Cody Franson with a beautiful pass for a goal in Ottawa, Franson still was taken aback with how the play unfolded.
“I don’t know how Grabo did it,” Franson said. “It was unbelievable. I thought he was going to shoot and maybe I would get a rebound. Somehow he knew I was down there, it was a no-look pass through a guy’s legs and ended up right on my tape. Easiest goal I have had this year for sure.”
Leafs coach Ron Wilson couldn’t help but take a shot, somewhat jokingly, at the CBC on Sunday. When asked about his interest in the Republican primary in the U.S., Wilson, who was born in Windsor and grew up in Fort Erie and has dual citizenship, said: “According to Hockey Night in Canada (specifically Don Cherry), I am American through and through. (They) forget where I have been born and where I grew up, but what are you going to do?”
With all of the good things happening with the Leafs, Tim Connolly has not been contributing much offensively. In the past 22 games, Connolly has one goal and eight assists and his minutes have dropped as he has been centring the third line ... There was some confusion over Reimer’s back-to-back shutouts, as several readers pointed out that Jean-Sebastien Giguere had back-to-back shutouts for the Leafs two years ago. That’s true, but there was a Leafs loss between Giguere’s two goose eggs. Before Reimer did it, Ed Belfour, in April 2004 against Buffalo and Ottawa, was the most recent goalie to post shutouts in back-to-back games. Coincidentally, Giguere’s second shutout, on Feb. 6, 2010, also was a 5-0 blanking of the Senators.