This recap will be a bit shorter than normal because I was at the Raptors game last night (CARTER SUCKS!) and was only able to catch the last 14 minutes of the game. The venom in the air every time The Incredible Sulk touched the ball was palpable and the ACC was the loudest I have ever heard it for a regular season game. Some highlights included VC going 1-9 in the first half, leaving the game in the second with a contact lens problem (I pray he heard me asking him if it was a season-ending injury), and missing about 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the loss. I wish VC only the worst the rest of the year and throughout his career and thank him for making last night such a fun night out.
As for the Leafs, they did their best to recapture the magic of the latter part of their losing streak right down to coughing up a two goal lead. Thankfully, Alex Steen played like a man bent on winning the game and scored a nice winner which just goes to show that if you pick a player to score the winner every game for a month that you will eventually be right. I would like to say that this goal could be a jumping off point for his season but there have been too many decent to good games on which he has failed to build momentum. Mats Sundin had a big night as he passed Jean Beliveau on the all-time scoring list and Dave Keon on the Leafs points list. He is now 33rd and 2nd respectively and in some pretty elite company.
Aside from that bit of niceness, I was a little worried with the Leafs. McCabe keeps trying to clear the puck by ringing it around the boards from one corner to the far side of the blueline with no regard to the fact that that play has not worked in about 90 years of NHL hockey. Somehow Ian White found himself on the ice in the last minute of the game against Erik Cole and Eric Staal, two guys much too big for him to handle. I have to think it was a coaching mistake not to have one of the top four out against those two big bodies but I am guessing it will be chalked up to providing White with some experience.
Looking at the scoresheet, Maurice seems to be getting closer to spreading the ice-time for his defencemen to the level that he wants. McCabe and Kaberle got around 27 minutes with Kubina coming in at 22 minutes. Gill and White came in around 16 minutes with Colaiacovo at 11 minutes. Maurice will probably try to shave a minute or two from the top pair to give it to Carlo but other than that the Leafs defence can finally start to try to achieve 'hard to play against' status as they are united for the first time this season. Of course, Andy Wozniewski will be back soon to throw a wrench in the team's plans.
Tonight the resurgent Leafs face the streaking New York Rangers and Blueshirt Bulletin notes that the last time these two teams met it sparked a couple of good winning streaks:
The last time the Rangers visitied Toronto early in the season, both teams were struggling to find themselves, the Rangers going 5-6-0 in their first eleven while the Leafs started out 4-4-3. But both teams got in gear starting with their twelfth game -- the Rangers reeled off a 4-0-1 run to jump start an 8-3-3 month of November while Toronto won their next three as part of a 7-1-0 run.
Here's hoping we see another great performance from Sundin and a goal or two from Steen to cement his confidence.