No ten game wait this year, at least thanks to the superb play of J.S. Giguere. Looking like the proven winner he is, Giguere closed the door on Brian Gionta as the Canadien’s Captain looked to tie the game with the net empty and the extra attacker on the ice. Something the Leafs have lacked in the last few seasons, Giguere seemed to carry his teammates on his back at the most crucial moment. As the games number 1 star, Giguere spoke of the victory.
“You don’t want to be chasing that first win. Now we can relax, not in work ethic, but just think about playing well and getting ready for the next game (Saturday against Ottawa).
“A win is a win and I think we’re really excited about this one. We wanted to kind of push away the start from last year. A lot of people talked to us about it the last few days and we were aware of it. It’s important to start on the right foot. It’s only one game, but it’s a good sign for us.”
The win did not come without some glaring mistakes, somewhat of a flashback from last season. At times the Leafs defensive play looked shaky and struggled to move the puck efficiently under pressure. While youngster Carl Gunnarsson had a tough night, it was a smooth veteran performance by the longest serving Leaf in Tomas Kaberle. Skating with what looked as an extra jump, Kaberle credits the home crowd for their show of appreciation during the games opening ceremony.
“It felt really good inside me tonight. Fans have supported me the 12 years here. I’m glad we have the best fans in the league. They need more. The last five years we haven’t done much.”
“This has always been my second home, I had a lot of friends in the city and a lot of them were here tonight.”
“I’m actually glad we finally started the season. The off-season was long, the summer was long, there was a lot of stuff in the papers, blah, blah, blah. That’s not what players are looking for, we’re looking for two points.”
Ron Wilson will be looking for his top line to get in more of a groove. Leading the Leafs in shots with 5 was Phil Kessel but the threat of the first unit was not evident as it was during exibition play. Scoring one goal and his first of the year after a strong pre-season campaign, Kessel spoke of his play after the game.
“I didn’t feel like I had any jump. It’s one of those nights when you wish you had a little more legs.”
Kessel won’t have to wait long, his chance to get those legs going will come during the first Battle of Ontario of this season, Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators. The Leafs can take some positives and build from the opener, but their play must be stronger to keep tallying points within the Eastern Conference. All in all, a deep sigh of relief is collective among Leaf Nation.
About the Author
Written by RJ Emptage
Operations Manager of a retail chain in Southern Ontario (Sports Obsession). Specialize in licensed sports apparel and novelties (Visit sportsobsession.ca). Being from the Hamilton area I grew up and into a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf Fan, and look forward to a bright blue and white future...(I know that sounds crazy doesn't it?) Love all things sports and the next best thing to playing them, is talking them!