KALETTA – WORST HUMAN IN HOCKEY
It must have been wonderful for Patrick Kaletta to hear Sean Avery was retiring, it opened the door for him to become the worst human in hockey. With 50 career points there aren’t many other categories of greatness he qualifies for. Every Leafs/Sabres game Kaletta does something that makes Leafs Nation seathe with hatred. It took 16 mins into Thursday’s Leaf game for Kaletta to do something cowardly as he ran over goalie Ben Scrivens. Winger Mike Brown immediately stood up to Kaletta who chose to skate away as though he were the bigger man. As Brown took the penalty box I could only imagine Leafs commentator Jim Ralph on the radio broadcast and the things he would be saying. Jim Ralph’s hatred for the head-butting performances of Kaletta is legendary.
BUFFALO’S DISEMPOWERING PLAY
Toronto killed the penalty off and avoiding going 2 goals in the hole, it wasn’t that hard with the Sabres 29th ranked power play clipping at a hot 12%. It was the terrific lack of secondary scoring in Buffalo that likely cost Lindy Ruff his coaching job just the day before. The Leafs killed that one off easily for Scrivens and to take Brown off the hook. It was a different story for the Leafs when they opened the 2nd period with a power play allowing Dion Phanuef to score his 100th NHL goal.
Kessel nearly made Buffalo pay for running Ben Scrivens a second time on a disallowed goal that resulted in an interference penalty. Kessel wrung one off the post coming down the left wing, for the next five minutes Toronto was all over Ryan Miller but were unable to score. The one place that Jake Gardiner’s return to the Leafs will add to is the power play, his smooth skating and passing will allow them to get across that line and set up. This was something they seem to struggle with, unfortunately there is no defencemen on the Leafs who deserves to be sent down or risked being lost on the waiver wire.
What eased the pain off those missed opportunities was how bad Buffalo was on the power play. People speculated that Buffalo would come out hard tonight because of the firing of coach Lindy Ruff, but no amount of effort could make up for their total lack of cohesion on the power play or there defensive zone work. There was numerous shifts in the second period where there was nothing Buffalo could do to clear the puck but let Ryan Miller cover it up and hope for a face-off win. Buffalo’s defense reminded me of some of the worst play from the Leafs decade long span of mediocrity. Only the sucking power of Ryan Miller’s giant mouth allowed him to eat nearly every puck thrown at him. Without Miller in net Toronto may have scored 10 goals!
KESSEL AND KADRI
Kessel has a fan in Buffalo commentator Rob Ray His assist on James Van Reimsdyk’s goal was an account of how dangerous his shot is. The pair found themselves on a 2 on 1 and everyone in the universe thought Kessel was about to shoot the puck. Miller respected him enough to commit to that shot which never came, at the last second Kessel directed it to JVR who only had to put out his stick. Kessel and Kadri are two players that have been very exciting almost every time they are on the ice. They are both players who have learned that an assist is as good as a goal, nothing about Kessel’s goal totals should be upsetting to Leafs fans. They are both plus players with decent assists totals.
3RD PERIOD – FIGHTING FINISH
John Scott and Fraser McClaren had a heavy weight bout while eenie Nathan Gerbe tried to stand up to Leafs Captain Dion Phanuef. Outside of the fisticuff category Buffalo wasn’t showing a lot of fight to start the 3rd period. If the Sabres thought that getting physical would take the Leafs off their home game they must have been surprised at the result. Nonetheless the Sabres were executing with a little more efficiency in the third period than they were in the second. Nonetheless most of their shots were from the periphery and when the Sabres took a parade to the penalty box they were all but finished.
JVR netted his 2nd goal of the night and 11th on the season on a 5 on 3 assisted by Cody Franson on his 2nd assist, he’s now second in the NHL in goals scored. Kessel had two assists, Phanuef had two points and Scrivens made 32 saves. Final score Toronto 3, Buffalo 1.