The Toronto Maple Leafs looked like they were dead in the water, just treading enough to keep their heads from slipping below the surface. After the Winter Classic, the Leafs lost 4 straight in embarrassing conditions. I had all but written them off, but as with most things in life, the Leafs are proving me wrong.
With a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on their longest winning streak in 7 years. It seemed hard to believe that this stretch was in them, but the Leafs have gathered up their strength and are now playing tough winning hockey.
Johnathan Bernier was by far the biggest reason for the Leafs win, as he stopped 39 shots. The Coyotes shot early and often, out-shooting the Leafs 41-29. This continues a season long trend which see the Leafs last in shots allowed, and continues to be the biggest issue with the team.
In spite of this, the Toronto Maple Leafs are now winning, and their top dogs are playing like they should. In the 4-game losing streak Phil Kessel was nearly invisible. During the 5-game winning streak, he has tallied 3 goals and 7 assists.
Kessel had a goal and an assist last night, matching Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner, both of whom tallied the same. Carl Gunnarsson also added a goal.
Far be it for me to give Randy Carlyle credit, as after starting off the new year so badly, I was openly calling for him to be fired. While I still don’t think he is the right coach, for either the roster or the market, at least the team is competing now.
With the current hot streak, the Leafs have catapulted themselves from the 11th seed all the way up to 6th.
With Bernier playing as well as he has been, and the Leafs offence no longer sputtering, I am offering up a mea culpa and am firmly back on the wagon for the playoffs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are right back at it tonight as they take on the Colorado Avalanche. Check back for a preview as I will outline what the Leafs need to do to continue their winning streak.