Who is this team is blue and white that plays defence and has solid goaltending? I feel lost when I am watching games and I don't curse at least one weak goal and one defenceman's parentage. But I could definitely get used to it.
Once again the Leafs played a strong defensive game and the real difference in the last two games has been that they have been defending as a unit. A smart man once noted:
Call me crazy, but if the forwards have as much invested in keeping the goals against down as the blueliners, then maybe they will be tougher to play against as a team.
Ok Crazy, good call. The emergence of Gamache, the inclusion of Tlusty, the benching of Bates, and the demotion of Newbury all seem to have woken up the forwards to the fact that playing two-way hockey is the surest way to guarantee a spot in the lineup. The Leafs did give up over 30 shots but the majority were from the perimeter which is okay by me and apparently by Toskala as well.
And at the site of one of Raycroft's best games last year (37 saves) Vesa cemented his stake to the number 1 role by coming up huge each time that the Rangers had a scoring chance save for one amazing goal by Jagr when he was actually interested in the outcome of the game. He kept the game close until the offence made their breakthrough and sealed the game. I won't lie, at 3-1 I was never more nervous but the team stuck to their gameplan and Kilger iced the game with an empty netter.
Don't look now but the Leafs are looking like a real hockey team. Which only means that Washington will probably blitz the Leafs tonight.
The Other End of the Rink
Antropov's goal last night startled me. Not because Tyutin simply disappeared on the play! What startled me was the fact that I simply could not remember the last time a Ranger forward drove to the net, parked himself in front of the opposition's goaltender and put his stick on the ice waiting to pound at the puck. The Prague Rangers simply don't do that!