Toronto Maple Leafs' 5 Most Impressive Individual Performances in 2013-14
Despite their recent swoon, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a lot to celebrate over the course of the 2013-14 season.
Obviously, the club could use a few outstanding individual and team performances in the regular season's final games.
Failing to gain a playoff berth would not sit well in Toronto, as many fans were preparing for a long postseason run just a few short weeks ago based on some great play on many nights this year.
In no particular order, here are the team's five most impressive individual performances in 2013-14.
All stats can be found on NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
Bernier Closes the Door Against the Predators on Oct. 10
The Deed: Bernier Earns Shutout
The Result: Leafs Defeat Predators 4-0
In what would become a regular occurrence, Jonathan Bernier was outstanding against the Predators in the Music City. Bernier faced 36 shots and stopped them all as the Leafs won their fourth game of the season in just their fifth contest.
While the Predators offense wasn't overwhelming on the night, Bernier was tested at both even strength and on Nashville's power play.
The Leafs had a strong October showing and this was one of their better games as the season got underway.
Phil Kessel's 4-Point Game on Oct. 29
The Deed: Phil Kessel Has 2 Goals and 2 Assists
The Result: Leafs Defeat Oilers 4-0
Phil Kessel has been outstanding on several nights this year and one of his better efforts came against the young Edmonton Oilers.
Kessel was dominant offensively at Rexall Place and the Oilers had no answer for his skill and puck luck. The Oilers and Leafs also had a high-flying affair in Toronto earlier in the season that had resulted in a 6-5 win for the Leafs.
The Leafs were—unsurprisingly—outshot on this night, but Kessel didn't need a lot of opportunities to make Edmonton pay.
Lupul Leads the Goal Rush Against the Blackhawks on Dec. 14
The Deed: Joffrey Lupul Has 2 Goals and 2 Assists
The Result: Leafs Defeat Hawks 7-3
This game seems remote in many ways. The Leafs outshot Chicago on the night and the secondary scoring was key in the victory.
Lupul and Mason Raymond both had four points on the night. The native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, was a decisive factor in that he scored late in the second and early in the third to put the game out of reach.
The Leafs need Lupul to somehow replicate this effort as the season winds down.
Bernier Defeats Bruins with Outstanding Performance on Jan. 14
The Deed: Bernier Stops 38 of 41 Shots
The Result: Leafs Defeat Bruins 4-3
The Leafs were once again outshot, but Bernier had another outstanding game against the big, bad Bruins.
While it didn't undo what had happened in the 2012-13 playoffs, it did go a long way toward Toronto proving that it could compete with one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Tyler Bozak also had a good night, but it was Bernier who led the way once again. It remains to be seen if the Leafs will get an opportunity to face the Bruins in the playoffs.
Phil Kessel's Hat Trick Against the Senators on Feb. 1
The Deed: Phil Kessel Has 3 Goals and 1 Assist
The Result: Leafs Defeat Senators 6-3
It was a very good night for Phil Kessel, as he had his second four-point night of the season against the Leafs' rivals from the nation's capital.
Kessel had a hat trick and also set up linemate Tyler Bozak for the centre's lone goal. It was another example of Phil not just scoring, but also being the playmaker that he doesn't always get credit for being.
The Leafs were in the middle of winning five of six games. It didn't hurt that this was a Saturday night game on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada with the Sochi Olympics on the horizon.
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