By The Meatriarchy
On October 28, 1991 the Pittsburgh Penguins were beaten 8-0. They came out two days later and won their very next game... and went on to win the Cup that year.
So it was that the Leafs exorcised their own demon from October 28 and shook off the 8-0 loss to beat the Panthers 2-1.
This was not a game without some nervousness however as Gary Roberts scored on the first shift making both McCabe and Belfour look pretty bad in the process. He then proceeded to deck Jeff O'Neil and then we didn't see much of him till late in the third period when he punched Jason Allison in the face and took a pretty dumb penalty in my books.
Speaking of penalties was this like a game from two years ago or what? Jacques Martin may be coaching in the new NHL but his team sure doesn't play like it. They hooked and clawed and grabbed their way through the whole game without remonstration from the officials. And then late in the third period the mildest sort of hook from Ponikarovsky results in his being sent off and Florida mounting a furious charge to test Belfour in the last four minutes. Eddy however showed he had exorcised some ghosts of his own (including the first period one) and stoned the Panthers cold.
No surprise that he was named the first star. And no surprise that Kyle Wellwood was a star as well, he was dangerous all night and set up Tucker for a pp goal in the first period.
Other standouts included Lindros who is back to his form of earlier this season and Allison who looked rejuvenated on the line with Steen and Stajan. I really like the looks of that combo and hope they stick together for a couple of games.
Belak was moved to forward and looked much more comfortable than he did on defense. Again this will be permanent I hope. The Leafs defense on a whole looked much better than they have for the past 4 games with very few defensive breakdowns. Quinn once again played Berg on the pk without hesitation. Showing he has tremendous faith in him or is thumbing his nose at Fergie (if the rumours of their feud are to be believed).
But the best news of all last night came off the ice as it was announced that Matts Sundin has been cleared to practice with the team. When Sundin and Andropov return I hope it means that some of the fourth liners (like Belak) get regulated to the stands and not Wellwood. However Quinn is not pleased with Kyle after he tried a hot-dog move (in Quinn's mind) by trying to shoot the puck between his skates during a surprise rush when the puck bounced out from the boards right to Wellwood in front of the net. To be fair to Wellwood he was almost past the puck and it seemed that it was the only way to reach the it.
However Quinn has zero tolerance with rookies for any sort of mistake and this could be a big black mark on the ledger next to Kyle's name.
Reports last night were that Sundin could be back as early as the 5th of November so all you folks who have written this team off remember we have been without our best player and captain since the season started. This team will improve greatly with his return.
Don't count this team out under any circumstances.
The surprising Carolina Hurricanes are up next on Thursday. Onward and upward!