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[Recap] Leafs 4 v. Thrashers 0: Believe in Blueland

The Atlanta Thrasher's slogan for the playoffs last year was 'Believe in Blueland' and ironically tonight it was the opposition that had belief Well, you get the idea. VeTo shut the door on the Thrashers and the big line of Antro-Sundin-Poni lit Letitin (congrats Healy for being hilarious) up for 3 goals and 5 assists.

The game was much closer than the score indicates as two late goals from Poni put a nice gloss on the final tally. The early exchanges were choppy and each team dinged a post but the difference in the Leafs' attitude over the last seven games continued tonight. The team's belief in the system that they are playing is evident in every forward's continued dedication to backchecking with as much energy as they attack and every defenceman's continued dedication to keeping their play simple. Sometimes problems are really that easy to resolve. As Healy pointed out when it was noted that the team's goals from its defenders was drying up, they are defencemen and all four forward lines are contributing.

Not to mention that VeTo once again made some perfectly timed stops including a stunning glove save on Ilya Kovalchuk when he broke in alone with the score at 2-1. He looks the business which, while making the deal for him this summer look much better, makes the Raycroft trade that much more painful.

Want to know what else has changed? The team's forwards are healthy which means that The Blender is gone which means that the players are actually able to learn each other's tendencies and develop some chemistry. Oh yeah, and the Soviet Bloc is flanking The Captain once again. The trio were first reunited during the Phoenix debacle which is now clearly a mulligan because since then the team is 6-1-1. During that eight game stretch Antropov has six goals and eight assists, Poni has three goals and four assists (but was injured for two games), and The Captain has five goals and six assists. During the summer in which the Toronto media bleated for a winger for Sundin the obvious answer - he already has two - was missed by everyone. At the beginning of training camp Maurice mentioned that he wanted to see Blake paired with Wellwood. Unfortunately, Kyle's injury derailed those plans but their implementation has seen a clear team ethic emerge.

Then again, as my friend put it when I called him after the game, it was just the Thrashers and it probably means that they'll blow it against the Habs tomorrow night. Probably.

But what if they don't?

It's still super early days to even consider this but...what if the Leafs are actually a good team? What if they don't just scrape into the playoffs but they are solidly ensconced in a good spot (4th-6th)? What if they make some noise in the playoffs? How do we answer this question? Seriously, it's super early but that thought flashed across my mind. Remember to vote for your player of the game.