Times Have Changed - Leafs Beat Devils 5-3

 

In the 2001 and 2002 NHL playoffs the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils faced off in two physical, emotional and hard fought series. With Martin Brodeur in the net for the Devils and Curtis Joseph for the Leafs, one constant those two years was great goaltending. After watching last night's 5-3 Leafs victory it's  obvious that the rivalry and intensity between these two teams is dead. Some old warriors from that Devils dynasty in Patrick Elias, Petr Sykora and of course Brodeur are playing out their final days, but they are simply running on fumes as the Devils drown in mediocrity.  
 
Coming off of a six game absence due to a shoulder injury, Brodeur had a horrible night surrendering five goals on 23 shots. All five goals were somewhat soft, and the future hall of famer fought the puck all night. An ugly game from top to bottom, as TSN analyst Ray (yellow teeth) Ferraro said the Leafs outscored their defensive problems on this night. Joey Crabb (in his first game since being called up), Mikhail Grabovski and Joffrey Lupul with three goals all beat Brodeur. The Devils capitalized on two struggling Leaf areas, the 30th ranked penalty kill (the Devils were 2 for 2), and Luke Schenn who on his 22 birthday was beaten cleanly by David Clarkson for a breakaway goal. Patrick Elias and Dainus Zubrus scored the other goals for the Devils. Rookie Adam Larsson registered his first NHL point on Elias' power play marker. 
 
On the bright side, Jonas Gustavsson continues to impress. Although he gave up three goals on 22 shots, he wasn't at fault for any of the goals. Lupul continued to revitalize his career with his hat trick night. Lupul now has 8 goals in his first 12 games. Phil Kessel was flying all night he added two assists on the night, and remains atop the NHL scoring standings. Jake Gardiner was fantastic on the night, he continues to impress. No matter how much I try to temper my enthusiasm with Gardiner he seems to be getting only better with experience. 
 
Men of the Match 
 
Leafs: Joffrey Lupul - The in form sniper has been a revelation for the Leafs ever since he arrived from Anaheim. A seamless fit to Kessel's wing, he holds the puck along the boards and utilizes his big frame. A sniper's hat trick tonight capitalizing on the limited chances he had. 
 
Devils: Petr Sykora - An old Leafs nemesis, Sykora showed he still has great speed and a wicked snap shot. Unfortunate to not score on his breakaway and prime chances. 
 
Next Game: The Leafs head to Columbus to end their brief road trip tonight.