Beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 at home on Monday night was an important victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They didn't want to have to answer more questions about why they have been so bad at home, especially after an impressive three-game road stint.
The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to stop their losing ways at home -- beat up on one of the worst road teams of this early season, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Maple Leafs improved to 2-4-0 at the Air Canada Centre this season with a hard-nosed and impressive 5-2 win Monday over the Flyers, now 1-6-0 away from Philadelphia.
Toronto's fourth win in a row to move them into a fourth-place tie in the Eastern Conference, however, it came at a cost. Goalie James Reimer, who has played so well in the early going, left with a left leg injury four minutes into the second period of his 40th NHL victory.
Reimer's undisclosed lower-body injury is not considered serious, according to Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. But Reimer will need more tests conducted Tuesday to determine the extent of his left leg ailment. The way NHL teams hide the facts on injuries, all fans should wait for news on the test results.
Besides the Reimer development, this was an important victory for the Maple Leafs. They didn't want to have to answer more questions about why they have been so good on the road and so bad at home, especially after an impressive road stint in which Toronto piled up victories in Washington, Winnipeg and Montreal.
It must have been a real downer for the Maple Leafs to return to the rather sombre Air Canada Centre atmosphere after playing and winning in the two best environments in the league in the MTS Centre and the Bell Centre.
The Maple Leafs altered the mood in their own building with three goals early in the second period to bust the game wide open and wipe out any chance for the faithful to start the "Let's go Blue Jays!" chant.
Maybe that's the ticket for this team. If they keep winning at the Air Canada Centre, maybe the corporate, staid atmosphere will turn in its favour.
In the meantime, I'm going to make two suggestions. First, why not try to stir up the fans before the game starts? The Maple Leafs were coming off this outstanding three-game victory string on the road and yet there was no acknowledgement before the game.
Would it not have made sense for Thin Lizzy's The Boys are Back in Town blaring when the Maple Leafs hit the ice with a highlight pack on the scoreboard from the three wins, including the late-game fisticuffs from Saturday's victory in Montreal?
Suits in suites
Now somebody out there will rebut that there aren't many fans sitting in the lower bowl when the game starts, that the suits remain in their suites until the last minute.
But here again, I don't think the Maple Leafs organization helps itself. There is a policy in place in which the ushers don't allow fans to move into their seats until there is a stoppage in play.
Why not allow the fans to move into their seats without a stoppage in the first three or four minutes of each period? After all, if there isn't anybody in those seats when the period begins, whose view are they obstructing?
But whether or not these suggestions are adopted, the Maple Leafs will win at home more often this season simply because of how they have played under Carlyle. They finally are a more difficult team on a nightly basis.
With Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Mark Fraser in the lineup, this team will not get pushed around anymore. Just ask Flyers forward Tom Sestito, who turned down invites to fight from Orr and McLaren.
A fight or two always whips the crowd into a frenzy.
But when all else fails, make sure the Trailer Park Boys are in attendance. Outside the goals scored by Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf, Orr, Matt Frattin, Clarke MacArthur and James van Riemsdyk, when Julian, Ricky and Bubbles were shown on the scoreboard they received one of the loudest cheers of the night.
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.
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