"did anyone expect the Leafs to miss Grabbo that much? Since his return they are on a tear. Love that crazy bastard."-JaredOfLondon, Die Hard Blue And White.
Totally agree. It made me realize that Grabbo's presence is really necessary as a secondary scoring threat, and without him, it's too easy for the opposition to focus their defensive muscle on Kessel. While Grabbo hasn't razzled and dazzled quite like he did last year, he's still an effective forechecker who messes with the opposition's heads, and screws with their rhythm and focus, altering the intensity of the game in the Leafs favor.
Then this happened...
That's pretty cool. But here's the real reason Grabbo is this edition's Difference Maker - did you realize that when Grabovski is in the line up for the Leafs, they are a BETTER THEN .500 TEAM? That was the goal, scored by Grabbo himself, that brought them up to the .500 plateau.
Tonight, Grabovski assisted on John Mitchell's 2nd period goal to cue the comeback, and then assisted on Kulemin's 2nd overtime winner of the month, to give the Leafs a 3-2 victory, thus pushing them one win over .500 when Grabbo laces up the skates this season. Grabovski was on the ice, as was Kaberle, for all 3 goals and both finished +3.
The Leafs record this season now stands at 28-35-12. When Grabovski got injured in the first period of the first game of the new year, a January 2nd 3-1 loss to Calgary, the Leafs record, that game included, was 14-19-9. From January 5th to March 7th, the Leafs record in Grabbo's absence was a brutal 6-14-3. Since returning to the line up on March 9th, the Leafs have been on a definitive roll, going 8-2-0.
14-19-9 + 8-2-0 = 22-21-9
28-35-12 - 6-14-3 = 22-21-9
Equals BETER THEN .500!
I'm not trying to say that Grabbo alone makes the Leafs awesome, but he makes them at least not horrible. Otherwise, they are. But when Grabovski's in the line-up, the Leafs are competitive, with a better then equal chance of picking up a point. Still not quite good enough to be playoff bound, but .500 is a lot closer then where we are now.
If the Leafs were in fact a .500 team, we would be ahead of Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Columbus, and the Islanders.
Post Game Notes...
MONSTER MARCH! Gustavsson is 7-0-0 for the month, sporting a super-nifty .929 SV% and a 1.93 GAA during this amazing streak.
Kulemin's overtime heroics continue with last night's game winner. That's now 2 overtime goals this month to go along with 3 goals scored in the shoot-out as well. Meanwhile the Leafs now have 7 straight victories in extra-time, all in the last 4 weeks, as their once woeful OT record suddenly begins to balance out.