The Leafs lost to the Atlanta Thrashers tonight 3-2. Where have you heard this before: Tuesday night home loss to a mediocre Southeast Division opponent.
No doubt, some folks will be into the gnashing of teeth, given the Thrashers’ two goals in less than a minute in the second period. No doubt, the Leafs fell apart for a bit for a few minutes there, and they paid for it when Atlanta cashed in a couple of markers. Keep in mind, though, that this is the youngest team in the NHL. They are bound to lose focus and composure from time to time this year, and it must be remembered that this will happen from time to time next year too. The key thing for Leaf fans to watch when this happens – not “if”, but “when” – is how the team reacts.
A couple of nights ago, the Leafs got themselves down 2-0 to the Rangers after two periods and managed to come back and get a win in overtime. Tonight, the comeback wasn’t complete, but the team bore down and got a couple of goals to tie it before surrendering the eventual winner on an Antropov tip in front of Gustavsson. There was some inspired play from Bozak again tonight, his pass to Stalberg on Stalberg’s first goal was brilliant. Stalberg himself showed some good determination to get to the net, though it was a bit alarming to see that his shot on that first goal was actually headed wide but bounced rather fortunately off the goaltender’s skate and in to the net. Tonight was probably one of Christian Hanson’s better games as a Leaf. There were also some terrific saves from Gustavsson – especially his save on Afinogenov with about two and a half minutes left in the second period, when Afinogenov was in alone on him just before the first Stalberg goal.
So yeah, another Tuesday night, another loss to a mediocre southeastern opponent, but I’ll say it again: there is reason for hope.