Spring Time Means Leafs Come Out

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Prior to the NHL Lockout, Toronto was the only city where Leafs would fall in the spring. But post-lockout, the Leafs seem to have gone back to their roots and only begin to bud in spring. That would be great if the NHL season coincided with the spring and summer seasons, but unfortunately it doesn't.

Well in typical post-lockout Leafs fashion, the boys are at it again. The late season surge never seems to fail. Well it does fail in the sense that it never gets them anywhere, but it never fails in frustrating fans. Well this year the jokes on them. We don't have a 1st round pick, so please, go ahead and move up the standings and save us the embarrassment of the Bruins picking either Hall or Seguin with that pick.

I will admit though that this season's late season surge is a lot more refreshing than seasons past and not just because of the draft pick. It's nice to see the young players coming along and really forming some great chemistry. It was frustrating in the past because we had all these expensive players that were expected to perform all season, but then only started playing well as the season came to a close, which only resulted in lower draft picks.

But this year is different. With guys like Kessel, Phaneuf, Gustavsson, Bozak, Kulemin, Gunnarsson, Stalberg and even Mitchell performing well, it really brightens the future for this team. Yes I said Mitchell too. In my last Leafs blog, I stated that I didn't think that Mitchell had a place on this team. Well it seems I was wrong and the reason for that is I overlooked an important aspect of the post-lockout game, the shootout.

Oddly enough, the Leafs have won three shootouts in the month of March. I say oddly because the Leafs have been one of the worst teams at the shootout since its inception. Not only did they have trouble scoring in the shootout, but they had trouble making the saves in the shootout as well, a recipe for disaster, which it was. But it seems that this team has been having success in both aspects of the shootout, which really is encouraging.

As for the team, they will have another opportunity to gain some ground this evening as they host the Florida Panthers who sit five points ahead of them. The Leafs will get a break as the Panthers will send out their back-up goaltender in Scott Clemmensen tonight. Giguere will be in goal for the Leafs.

After tonight, the team will be in Atlanta on Thursday night, a team that is fighting for a playoff spot, so that won't be an easy game. Then the Leafs will be back at home on Saturday night to take on the struggling Rangers who find themselves falling further out of the playoff race.

Enjoy tonight's game!

Patrick Storto
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