Earlier tonight, prior to game time, I made a bold faced prediction. I told anyone who would listen that the Toronto Maple Leafs would start James Reimer in goal, and in the process, beat the Chicago Black Hawks 3-1. At least I got the Reimer part right. I thought that the Buds would try to make up for their last two abysmal efforts against a couple of the NHL’s bottom feeders, Carolina and Philadelphia, but I was wrong.
Windsor - December 22, 2014 - Earlier tonight, prior to game time, I made a bold faced prediction. I told anyone who would listen that the Leafs would start James Reimer in goal, and in the process, beat the Black Hawks 3-1. At least I got the Reimer part right. I thought that the Buds would try to make up for their last two abysmal efforts against a couple of the NHL’s bottom feeders, Carolina and Philadelphia, but I was wrong. After getting smoked by the Flyers on Saturday night, the Leafs looked to turn things around with a Sunday night road game in Chicago. But it’s hard to win in the other guy’s building when your goalie is the only one who came to play.
Chicago defenseman David Rundblad opened the scoring at 15:30 of the the first period when he blasted a one timer past a screened Reimer for his first goal of the season. The Black Hawks made it 2-0 late (and I mean late) in the first on a Kris Versteeg goal with .4 seconds left on the clock. The thing that troubled me about this goal was the fact that Leafs forward Tyler Bozak could have caught Patrick Kane before his pass to Versteeg, but with 2 seconds remaining, he just stopped skating.
The Buds fared a little better in the second, but still couldn’t solve Hawks goalie Antti Raanta, who stopped Phil Kessel on a couple of chances, and had help of his goal post on another Leafs chance. Reimer stopped everything Chicago shot his way, and was the only reason the score stayed 2-0 after two. To quote the legendary Bob Cole, who I never get tired of hearing, “The Leafs goalie is keeping his team alive!”
The third period was all Chicago. Goals by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews sealed the victory, and Antti Raanta posted his third career shutout. The three stars were Patrick Kane (1G 2A), Raanta, and Jake Gardiner, who returned after being a healthy scratch Saturday night. The Leafs continue their road trip with a game in Dallas on Tuesday night.
Random Game Notes
The last time the Leafs were shut out by Chicago was in March 2000. The Leafs goalie was Glenn Healy.
Chicago boasts the league’s best penalty kill at over 90%.
Leafs clearly miss Leo Komarov, out with a concussion.
These days, with all of the changes in network hockey coverage, any time you get to hear Bob Cole call a game, it’s a good night.