Is trouble brewing in Toronto?
That’s the question many were asking today as Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson declined to address reporters following practice. That Wilson chose today to bail was rather curious, as the Leafs are going through their first bit of adversity this season. They’ve lost three of five and been outscored 12-1 in consecutive losses to the Bruins and Panthers with goalies Ben Scrivens (seven goals on 21 shots) and Jonas Gustavsson (five goals on 27 shots) struggling mightly.
The goaltending issues came to a head last night as Wilson not-so-subtly threw both under the bus in the postgame presser.
Wilson: “We’ve gotta support our goalies better. It’s a rough time for them. We have to play better defensively, but sometimes that’s hard to do when you don’t give up any chances and the pucks’ in the net…and it’s not a scoring chance.”
Wilson: “Their goalie [Jose Theodore] made a number of big saves and unfortunately we didn’t get a save, and that sunk us.”
Reporter: “How do you move ahead when both goaltenders are kind of fighting it?”
Wilson: “Well, they’ve gotta work hard in practice. That’s their responsibility to sit there with Frankie [goalie coach Francois Allaire] and go over the games. At least now we go on the road, maybe they can relax a little bit and not worry about what happens if they make a mistake. And hopefully they’ll bounce back.”
It was widely predicted the Leafs would struggle when starting goalie James Reimer was lost to injury, and those predictions have come true. (Doesn’t sound like Reimer’s close to returning, either.) So you can understand why Wilson is trying to keep the media at bay — he’s got nothing good to say about his current goaltending situation, so it’s probably best not to say anything.
Just not sure how long that’s going to work. It’s the Toronto media, after all.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.