One of the themes of the Toronto Maple Leafs season has been the team's battle with inconsistencies. Prior to the rise of James Reimer the Leafs battled with inconsistent performances in goal from J.S Giguere (11-10-3) and Jonas Gustavsson (6-13-2).
The same inconsistency has plagued Leafs leading goal scorer Phil Kessel, captain Dion Phaneuf and centerman Tyler Bozak through points of this season.
Bozak is an undrafted 24-year-year old who was brought into the organization last year after playing close to two seasons with the University of Denver of the WCHA. Bozak played 39 games with the Leafs in the 2009-2010 season and picked up eight goals and 27 points.
His offensive success gave him a spot on the Leafs first line to start the 2010-2011 season playing alongside sniper Phil Kessel. However, the offensive achievement which he obtained last season has not carried over to 2010-2011 as going into tonight’s tilt with the Montreal Canadiens, Bozak had just nine goals and 20 points in 60 games and was carrying a 14 game goalless drought on his back.
But tonight Bozak scored two goals (including the game winner) and added an assist helping lead the way to a 5-4 Leafs victory.
“We’ve got four lines that are playing really well, if everyone’s going, I think we’re a pretty tough team to beat and that’s the way we have to finish the season here,” Bozak told the Globe and Mail.
But Bozak wasn’t the only Leafs forward creating offense in tonight’s win. Phil Kessel potted two goals and added two assists tying a personal record with four points in the game. For Kessel it’s been an up and down season filled with goal streaks and goal droughts, but he’s currently on a streak that has him with six goals in his last five games.
“Phil has been playing great, I said that last week when everyone was on him,” captain Dion Phaneuf told the Toronto Star. “It’s good to see him getting rewarded.”
Lebda Steps Up
Whether or not the Leafs obtain a puck moving offensive defenceman prior to Monday’s trade deadline to replace the recently traded Tomas Kaberle remains to be seen. But tonight defenceman Brett Lebda stepped up offensively scoring his first goal as a Toronto Maple Leaf and his first in 86 regular season games.
“He [Lebda] wants to be the answer,” head coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto Star. “He keeps reading we’re going to get a defenceman. He’s here and he’s got to get the job done and maybe we don’t have to look for someone to put in that spot.”
The Leafs now sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and just four points behind the eighth seeded Carolina Hurricanes. They’ll get Friday off before a game Saturday night at home against the injury plagued Pittsburgh Penguins.