Raking Leafs

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

11/10/2006

Steppin'

TOR vs BOS Nov.09/06

Leaf Lines
Bates-Peca-Tucker
Steen-Stajan-O'Neill
Poni-Kyle-Antro
Chad-Pohl-Sugar

Leaf Pairs
White-Gill
Kaberle-McCabe
Bell-Belak

Raycroft/Aubin
Combo TOI


The Leafs answered the bell with Mats out, as players young and old stepped up early and often. Whether it be scoring, or taking face-offs, or taking the body, everyone did their part.

Tucker and Peca and Kilger score the first three, and in a fashion not characteristic of the team so far, but a trend I hope will continue; goals were scored in the first and last five minutes of the period.

Tucker and O'Neill got it going six seconds into the first powerplay. The Bruins were sleeping on the play;Chara allowed O'Neill to play the puck, Thomas allowed the puck through his crease, and Lashoff forgot to eliminate Tucker going to the net. Darcy finished the play with an east tap-in.

Peca was up next with a beauty re-direct just above the crease from a great feed by Bates deep in the right corner, after Kaberle walked the blue line, stalling for space and time.

Next, Kilger created traffic in front of Thomas and deflected a point shot from McCabe, who was fed by Antropov after he cycled down low solo for about ten seconds. Antro is looking good folks. I know, I don't want to say too much, lest I jinx the 'Lankster', but he deserves the praise.

Not a bad first period, if I do say so myself. And it would continue. Not yet five minutes into the second, Big Nik finished the job after Poni drove hard to the net. These two play so well together, it is a shame they haven't been fortunate enough to remain healthy for long stretches.

The euphoria ceased when the Super Bruins (Sturm, Bergeron, Boyes) finally put Boston on the big board. But, again, the Leafs displayed character, resolve, heart, you name it, when they answered back less than two minutes later to restore the three goal lead. The Bruins coughed up the puck deep in their zone as they were breaking out, Kyle retrieved the puck, froze the defenders who were close to the play, fired a low shot to the far side, or what he probably saw as a bank pass to a open and waiting Poni to deposit in the open net. Early in the first Wellwood was fed the puck astride by Antro and blazed into the zone with Poni supporting on the left. Wellwood went to shoot, then over-thought the play, held the puck and fed Poni the puck in a spot where he could do very little with it. I love the creativity and skill, but Kyle needs to incorporate smarts into his suite of gifts. He needs to know when to shoot. Somebody please sit him down and have a "Shoot the damn puck!" talk with him.

Savard would score mid way through the second stanza on a stretch pass with a beauty back hand roofer. Not a big deal. 5-2. But the fates would once again test my sense of humor as Raycroft fell victim to another one of their jokes; a tweaked groin. Raycroft had been playing lights-out up to this point, turning away the typical Bruin barrage of shots. (aside: the bruins seem to hit and shoot alot, but somehow they don't translate that into wins. how is that?) And on the play in question he once again flashed a pad to make a great left toe save. But he immediately doubled-over and remained on his knees. Prudence followed, as he left the game and Aubin entered the game.
The Leafs would escape the second without anymore damage done, but the Bruins would strike twice in the third on their powerplay. Despite their embarrassing defensive zone coverage, the Bruins powerplay looks dangerous, and might help turn their season around. Though, they have to fix their net problems. I chuckled abit when the NESN team described Thomas' style as "unique", which reminded me of what a buddy says about Thomas; he never makes it look easy, he flails around too much, and rarely makes the second save. Is not what makes an NHL goal tender, this is.

Big Nik would snuff out the rally with an empty-netter, and make Gill and Raycroft's return a success. It was especially sweet after hearing Gill's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty announced emphatically as "Diving!"

So the Leafs score aplenty, but barely do enough on the opposite side of the puck to down the struggling Beantown boys. The scoring should not come as a surprise as the team could potentially have ten twenty goal scorers this year. At the moment, the pace is for eight, but if Nik can produce and Steen picks it up, the Leafs will be extremely balanced.

The problem remains goals against. McCabe said it best,
We have a tough time when we get up three or four goals...We got back on our heels at the end a bit.
The lead really shouldn't be a problem, so hopefully the team learns that keeping the collective foot and the proverbial gas is the best way to keep the other team from scoring.
_________________________

Since the Leafs played the Bruins, it is somewhat appropriate to point out that Bobby Orr has come out against hits to the head. Ideally, I agree completely. I'm not sure how the refs will be able to enforce a shift in applying the rule book, but it is worth a shot.

Yes, you have to keep your head up. Yes, players are of varying heights. But when you intend to injury someone, that ain't right. There is a difference between a clean hard check and a dirty hit, and the difference is the head (or knee, but I'm not on that rant right now).

You can tell me Torres' hit on Williams was clean 'til the cows come home, and it presently is legal, but I still see it as dirty. He knew what he was doing. He took a run at a guy who was already covered. And put his shoulder in the guy's face. If you need more convincing go check out OnTheWings. Exact same play by Ben Eager is why Sundin is on the shelf. Only difference is Eager missed and clipped Sundin's arm, Sundin had his head up, and saw it coming at the last second.

And if you are curious, this is the definition of charging (Official Rules 2006-07, pg.93) :

A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.

Charging shall mean the actions of a player or goalkeeper who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the board, into the goal frame or in open ice.


That couldn't be more vague if it tried. And yet, I would argue both Eager and Torres were guilty of charging on the two plays in question. So why isn't charging called anymore? (I think I'll be examining some more definitions in the rule book in the coming weeks.)

UPDATE - Sisu and I are mind-melding or something.

3 Comments:

  • At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah, Wellwood is the new Kaberle! The best thing about that play was the way Antro used his body to shield the puck and made a nifty pass to spring those two.

    God I hope he stays healthy! He is using his reach and size to protect the puck and crashing the net. Who is that guy?

     
  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger ninja said…

    So true. He sent Wellwood off to the races, and Kyle decides to slow up for a pass. Wellwood is too much of a giver right now.

     
  • At 4:56 PM, Blogger Wardo said…

    I was thinking about this too. Whatever classes Kaberle attended, Wellwood should go to.

    Wellwood is being too much of a "kept boy" right now.

    Maybe he could act more like a "do-me queen"? Kind of like Heatley, for instance:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gay_slang_words_and_phrases#P

    (I was looking up the lingo used in last week's American Dad episode. Stan is a "Power top"? It's not on this list, though...

     

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