Leafs 6 v. sens 0: Release the Hounds!
I have vowed to try to tinge my objectivity with a litte optimism mainly to prevent depression and to counteract the deluge of negative press that the Toronto Media slams down Leafs fans' throats. Sometimes this requires deep inspection (see: Night, Wednesday). Then there are the glorious evenings such as the one that just passed. Last night allows you to ignore any shortcomings (McCabe is getting paid $5.75M but is playing like he is worth about $750K) and just bask in the greatness of beating one of your bitterest rival 6-0, in their home rink no less.
I mentioned to a friend after the first period that it seemed that someone had pissed in the Leafs coffee because they came out of the gate fired up. Darcy Tucker and Chad Kilger showed up, which was nice of them, and were impact players all night. They finished checks, scored a pair of goals each, and that seemed to push the rest of the team to improve their play. Of course, Mats was a beast last night. The sens' defence could only hope to contain him as he chipped in with two assists. Peca, was once again a force especially during the penalty kills when he was not in the box.
Pavel Kubina showed the difference that he can make. His presence allowed the defence's ice time to be more spread out. He was strong on the puck and skillfully avoided falling on Andrew Raycroft when chris neil tried to push him onto our tender. Naturally, neil fought no one last night. There was a fight between McGrattan and Belak but it consisted mostly of little lefts and the big loser was the air who took the brunt of the force of the right-handed roundhouses.
The two big stars for the game were Kyle Wellwood who picked up four assists and used his quickness and shiftiness (two completely different things) to full effect. And last, but certainly not least, the new goaltender Andrew Raycroft. After last night he is the proud owner of a 1.51 GAA and .957 Sv%, a far cry from last year's numbers. Much of the talk over the summer was whether he could re-capture something approximating his Calder Trophy-winning form. Well, he certainly looks well on his way. He smothered any shots that came near his chest, he challenged the sens' shooters aggressively, and made key breakaway saves again including one perfectly timed pokecheck. Meanwhile, Martin Gerber is one game closer to Patrick Lalime territory and probably felt a little like this last night.
All in all, the Leafs not only improved their effort but they also showed that the reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. If they can keep the work rate up then they will be in with a shout for the playoffs but they will be far from the laughingstock that most people had predicted. See the goals here!
After a shocking evening of silence from the ACC crowd the SBP crowd decided to show that they could do one better. After a decent start they quickly moved to booing the sens ineffective powerplay before leaving the building almost devoid of any sens fans towards the end of the third period. Good show sens fans!
Meanwhile, the true Leafs fans (the ACC crowd is generally only about 50% true Leafs fans...much like SBP) held their own in terms of Go Team Go chants before asserting their dominance by loudly booing the sens' captain every time he touched the puck. Of course, sens fans were confused because they had no idea Bozo was in the line-up.
Next to face the Leafs juggernaut: Montreal Saturday Night.
Now, with a special theme (I think you will pick it up quickly) it's an all-goaltender themed...
The Final Word
Martin Gerber. After pretty much stealing the first period for the Sens Wednesday night, allowing the Sens to rally in the second period and get the win, Gerber fell back to Earth and gave me, and many of you I’m certain, visions of Patrick Lalime. That first goal by Chad Kilger was vintage Lalime during the 2003-04 season, and unfortunately it didn’t get better from there. The Ottawa defence didn’t do Gerber any favors, as they had an equally awful night, however, when you have a $3.7 million goalie, you’d hope he could stop a lot of those shots that lit the lamp. The alleged goaltending controversy, sparked by his poor pre-season, was quieted 24 hours ago, but this is the kind of outing that gets that talked started all over again.
Chris McMurtry, reminding us of just how familiar that Kilger goal seemed.
Chad Kilger played the part of Joe Nieuwendyk, beating Gerber from the left wing faceoff circle with a shot that everyone admits should have been stopped. Tucker made it 2-0 with a good wrister, but also one that would have hit Gerber had he been upright...The Senators were a bad lot in this embarrassing, 6-0 home opening loss to a team that will have its hands full making the playoffs. And a very inconsistent Gerber -- in two periods before being mercifully replaced -- was the worst of it...Think maybe John Muckler should have went after Andrew Raycroft instead of Gerber in the offseason?
Don Brennan, Ottawa Sun, points out the obvious.
Gerber was the toast of Bytown after Wednesday, but was heckled after giving up five goals in two periods last night.
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun, reminding everyone that Gerber only managed 40 minutes.
They pumped five goals past an overwhelmed Martin Gerber in the Ottawa net, chasing him after two periods, en route to this laugher. Then they rubbed a little road salt in the wound with another goal in the third, beating backup goalie Ray Emery.
Paul Hunter, Toronto Star, calling a spade a spade.
The Ottawa Senators might have been better off last night if they had slapped some goalie pads on Spartacat. Or Lyndon Slewidge. Or any one of the Governor General's Foot Guards who stood alongside Slewidge for O Canada. Or found out where Damian Rhodes lives and sent a cab for him.
Allen Panzeri, Ottawa Citizen, revealing the sens proposed goaltending shopping list.
Meanwhile over at the Globe Dave Shoalts weighed in with a gloating column entitled "Leafs faults on full display" Maybe today we could have one with "Toronto Sports Media Faults on display"?
The Meatriarchy, Battle of Ontario, suggesting that jumping the gun and a mob mentality might not suit journalism.