Ups and Downs
Game Recap - Tuesday January 16, 2007 - Leafs v. Lightning
The good news is that while the Leafs were recovering from their fun in the Florida sun Andrew Raycroft was stealing them a couple of wins. The Soviet Bloc returned and powered the offence in the Tampa game with a goal and an assist each. The Florida game showcased JFJ's talent for spotting unappreciated players that could help the Leafs as Battaglia, Kilger, and Devereaux scored the goals. This probably the biggest mystery surrounding the Leafs' GM. He has shown a great skill for the little deal but not much for the blockbuster and that is worrisome as the Leafs head towards a deadline day in which they have several assets that could be moved to either build for the future (I hope) or make a last desperate push for the playoffs (a pyrrhic victory is successful) or he could sit on his hands again (the most likely scenario).
Unfortunately, Raycroft's great play apparently made the rest of the team think that they could be completely absent and they were buried in Pittsburgh. In a game that featured undisciplined play and some atrocious refereeing the Leafs were done in by their useless powerplay and their shockingly inept penalty kill. It is incredible just how much the Leafs PK misses Peca. The team suffered as they repeatedly lost defensive zone faceoffs and ran around like chickens with their head cut off. Travis Green has helped take some pressure off of Mats' shoulders on faceoffs but they both were outclassed by Crosby.
The good thing is that the Leafs have focused much more on the confidence that they derived from the two games in God's Waiting Room than the mess in Pittsburgh. The Leafs take on the Habs tonight, a team that they have dominated this season and save for some incredible goaltending would be 4-0 against, in Toronto. It will come down to the goalies which was a much scarier prospect two weeks ago.