Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


Auld Stingy as Leafs Hunt Panthers

TOR vs FLA - 10/09/06

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs


It's getting tough to find glaring fault with this team that Maurice has formed and JFJ has put together. Last night was a dominating performance against a very deep Florida Panthers squad. Auld, and the horse-shoe somewhere in his nether regions, was the only reason this game wasn't the Leafs to lose after the first and not a blow out after the second. And after getting frustrated for 50 minutes, the team tied it up and finished it off via their nemesis; the shootout. By the way, that makes Sundin three for three in taking the puck in alone from center, a huge improvement from last year.

Eddie didn't get the start for the visitors, but I'm sure he had alot of inside tips for Auld on Leafs' shooter tendencies. Gary almost deflated his former team with a last ditch effort with a couple of seconds remaining in the middle frame, but just missed connecting on a re-direct off a rush. Joe didn't repeat his performance of when he last played at the ACC. I didn't see the play where he got hurt, so I'll just assume it is his wonky back.

I have a hunch Ric Jackman carries a big grudge for being let go for, of all people, Drake Berehowsky. He annihilated O'Neill in the first with a clean hit, and then left his feet for a hit on...I think Kilger, which earned him two minutes. Maybe if we ask nicely, he'll come back now that Kubina appears to be out for a while. Riiight. But I'm hoping Bell will be back.

So far this year, the Leafs are reminding me of Leafs' opponents of last season, as they continue to draw penalties with even strength speed and pressure. Sure Sundin drew calls last year, but not too many others did with any regularity. How many penalties has Wellwood alone drawn with his speed and puck handling on the rush going directly at defenders? I'm thinking at least one per game, maybe more. If he keeps this up, and getting over 24 minutes TOI I think he might, along with producing points, that is two huge weapons from a player of, how did Cox put it, "uncertain capabilities," or some such shit. My girlfriend could see the pedigree on Wellwood's GTG, noting the slight hesitation as he came down on the puck, getting Auld to go down early and providing himself a better angle.

Steen is really coming around after a sluggish camp, preseason and first couple of games. He pulled a sick stop/pivot move early in the second that I'd like to see again. And he showed good chemistry with Stajan later when the two almost combined for a beauty goal. This is a pair that should see more ice time together.

Ian White again demonstrated he knows when to hold em, and knows when to rifle the puck. In one short sequence he let loose three shots in quick succession because he knew there was good traffic in front of Auld. Good stuff. I hope he can withstand the targeting he is receiving from opposing teams. Gill provided a little moral support after Gratton boarded White. Maybe Ian can teach Kaberle to look at the goal when deciding whether to shoot, as Tomas gave up the chance to shoot when Auld had no idea where the puck was after a strange bounce off the end boards, and decided to make a pass, great as it was, to Tucker at the side of the net where Auld just happened to be standing. If Kaberle had shoot anywhere on the left half of the net, there was nobody there to stop the puck. Oh well. He did have a nice three touch pass sequence with Sundin on the powerplay where he ended up shooting. I've imagined that play before with McCabe and Kaberle, but McCabe's return feeds leave something to be desired. Bryan should really work on faking the slapper to pass motion.

UPDATE - On a fantasy hockey tip, snatch up Kopitar if he is still available in your pool. Yes, he is an obvious choice with 2g 3a in 2 games, but it is his TOI that is really impressive. A rookie forward averaging over twenty minutes a game is on par with the Crosbys and Ovechkins of the world. Also, his first goal came while walking around Chris Pronger from the right wing, making it look easy. His second came by forcing Neidermayer into no mans land and shooting, deflecting the puck off Beauchemin on the Ducks' goal. Two goals while two of the best are defending him = No brainer.


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