Leafs 1 v. Avalanche 4: God is Not Dead
Buddah is alive and well! Err...Budaj is alive and well. Despite his fears of facing the Leafs vaunted attack,
"...I was told they were averaging 35 or even 38 shots on net so I was expecting more shots,"
the Leafs were very accomodating in allowing the timeless deity to get the win in the town in which he starred for the St. Michael's Majors.
Unfortunately for those that paid to watch the Leafs win their touching homecoming gesture did not sit well as evidenced by the booing at the end of the game. This was a game that most people agree was a horrible trip down memory lane. The Leafs played some amazing hockey, in the first 3 minutes, and then took us back to the dark pre-Olympic days where they could not forecheck, skate, defend, goaltend, score, or make good pre-game presentations.
Yes, the night started slow when Mats was honoured with a nice frame-up of the stick, puck, and scoresheet from his milestone night. The team also gave him a golf trip for four to Ireland. As someone who has golfed there I recommend he stay away from the Irish Sea. Sure, the sea coast is beautiful and 400 yard 7-irons with gale force winds at your back are sweet but it is not as much fun when your drive goes about a quarter of that distance. Anyway, the Leafs surely did not do much to show that they deserved a spot on that trip. This game dropped them to 0-2 in games with a pre-game celebration so I would suggest that after Mats breaks more records this season that the club conduct the ceremony on an off-day. You know, something even more understated than last night's 'celebration'.
In a game in which the buds continued they tradition of being a cure-all for what ails a struggling team the review of the actual game is pretty short. Basically:
- Andrew Raycroft had his first game where you could really say that goals were soft through no fault of screens or deflections (note: he also made some great saves but that is not enough to make up for his first real stinker)
- Matt Stajan was the best forward and was almost rewarded when he set up O'Neill for a goal that sould have counted. Yes, O'Neill pushed Budaj but the puck was already gone and in the net. The ref blew this call among many others tonight.
- Mike Peca killed penalties as well as was hoped when he arrived.
- The young Marlies defencemen were especially atrocious with Jay Harrison leading the way. He coughed up the puck on a number of occassions, was directly to blame for one goal, and lost his man on a second.
Hopefully, this game teaches the Leafs what should have been evident before tonight: If they do not kill themselves through the sheer amount of heart and effort they display then they will get killed.
Maple Leaf Goal
In a display of what they should have done all night Jay Harrison feathered a nice dump-in to the corner and both Wade Belak and John Pohl pressured the defencemen into coughing up the puck. Bates Battaglia picked up the puck and roofed a wrist shot over Budaj's shoulder to give the Leafs the lead 2:22 into the game. The team stopped playing at 2:23.
The section that makes you wish that opposition newspapers would write something more inflammatory...
The Final Word
The Leafs are about to embark on a streak in which they play nine games in 16 days. They had better wake up. A disinterested Toronto squad sleepwalked through a 4-1 loss last night to the Colorado Avalanche. Coming into the game in last place in the Northwest Division, the Avalanche exposed the flaws in a Maple Leaf team that looked rusty after a three-day layoff.
Kevin McGran, Toronto Star, reminding the team that they were a pre-season pick to miss the playoffs for a reason.
But after raising his arms and looking skyward after the Avs' 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, Budaj took the puck with him for keeps. Not because it was his first victory of the season, or because it was the Avalanche's first road win.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post, focusing on the God-fearing goaltender instead of the ease with which the Avs lost.