Saturday, December 16, 2006

Leafs Fear No Swedish Goalie

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As you could guess from that smile inducing picture, the Leafs dominated every facet of their game against the New York Rangers. Poor Henrik Lundqvist paid for his shenanigans of a few weeks ago as Tom Renney left the gold medal-winning goaltender in for eight of the Leafs nine goals.

The first period illustrated how bounces can affect the outcome of a game. When the Leafs were losing the bounces were decidedly against them. Tonight, O'Neill's pass on Carlo's opening goal went off a Ranger's skate directly to the pinching defenceman. Later, a poor Ponikarovsky dump-in bounced over the defenceman's stick and let John Pohl in alone on net before slipped a shot under Lundqvist's blocker arm. Kyle Wellwood apparently could hear the stream of invective that I fired his way last night because of his aversion to shooting as he fired home three goals for his first career hat trick.

On the back-end, the Leafs defence had a good game and continue to adapt to their respective roles and ice time. Now that the injury bug seems to have moved on from the defence (Get well soon Darcy!) the minutes and pairings that Maurice had in mind at the beginning of the season have contributed to much stronger defensive efforts during the Leafs current resurgence. There is still a long way to go for this group to reach their potential but they are making progress.

The Leafs reborn offence faces the Panthers at home on Tuesday as the look to extend their current streak to four games.

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