Colin Dambrauskas: Merry Christmas From the Leafs, and Me! Thank you!

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Before getting into my blog, I’d like to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas and for those who don’t celebrate, a great holiday time with friends and family just the same.

I am thankful for all my readers and the success which I have found while writing for HockeyBuzz over the past 3-4 years.

It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to the blogs to come.

So, thank you!

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The Toronto Maple Leafs offered their fans an early Christmas present last night with a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars. Expected to be an interesting game given that the Leafs are considered one of the hottest offensive teams and the Stars have been struggling defensively, fans were not let down.

The last blog I wrote offered that while the Leafs were winning games there were still some areas of concern. One of those concerns was their defensive struggles or system, if you will. Last night I was quite surprised with what they offered. Knowing full well that the Stars have some tremendous fire power of their own, Toronto came out with a strong shut down game and didn’t allow many chances.

While they were out-shot during every single period, for those who watched the game it was quite clear that their chances were not exactly, strong. Many shots coming from the perimeter, a few that almost seemed as though the Stars were throwing anything they could at the net in hopes for a bad rebound or what have you. Point is, the overall game was actually somewhat impressive when it came down to looking at how they did on paper.

When Toronto is successful they bump, they grind, they fight and they play as a cohesive group. Last night they were reading the play quite well. They covered assignments with ease, were not caught cheating too often on the points, and when they would someone would cover their point.

Generally speaking when I look to write these blogs I often try and find the good and the bad because let’s face it, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not a perennial Stanley Cup team and they are expected to have their list of faults. But last night there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about to be honest.

Sure their shots need to continue to come down. It’s evident; having 40+ shots against is not a good thing and the team owes a big “thank you” to Jon Bernier for his performance last night. I did mention that many/most of Dallas’ chances weren’t exactly strong, but when 43 shots are thrown at your goalie, a mistake or two could easily happen.

Even when playing at his strongest, the slightest deflection from a weak shot can alter the way the game ends. See Maple Leafs vs Flyers – Bernier really didn’t have a terrible game, but when you allow that many shots a few can easily find the back of the net on even the best of goalies. This still needs to improve – so there is your negative point, I guess.

Anyways, last night was a great win for the Leafs as they enter the Christmas break…it should go without saying. The challenge now for the Leafs who are historically known for collapsing will be to not come back from said break with too much confidence.

This team has a lot to work on yet and the season is not even half way over yet. There is a ton of hockey left and this team is going to be tested come the New Year. Some much needed rest should be awarded to Phil Kessel over the next week as he really hasn’t looked himself of late, has he? I’m not sure if he’s still banged up or not, but if Toronto is going to make and challenge during the upcoming playoffs, they are going to need a healthy Kessel.

That’s it for today folks, enjoy your time off and be safe!

Cheers!