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[Recap] Holiday Ups and Downs...and Down again

The Leafs went into the Christmas break on the back of a good win over the Florida Panthers. Pavel Kubina picked up the winner in overtime with a blast from the point that beat Tomas Vokoun. It brought the Leafs post-regulation record to 2-7.

After Christmas the Leafs not only saw that record worsen to 2-8 but they received the hockey equivalent of coal in their stocking with news that Vesa Toskala was out of the lineup with a groin injury. Most forget that last year until a November game with the Bruins Raycroft was having a very good year. He went down with a groin injury and didn't get back to a level near his early season form until December and even then he failed to match the early promise that he had showed. The game against the Islanders ended with 10 seconds left in overtime after a Jason Blake turnover resulted in an odd-man rush which saw Mike Comrie bury a rebound after Raycroft stopped a deflected shot.

The game made it to overtime despite the best efforts of Glen Healy as with under two minutes to go he decided to punch karma in the nose and suggest that all the Leafs had to do was not give up a goal to guarantee themselves at least a point. Much like in the Lightning game the Leafs promptly gave up a ridiculous scoring chance but Raycroft made two stunning saves to secure the point. A powerplay in OT wasn't enough to get the point as the Leafs peppered their bogeyman, Wade Dubielewicz, from every angle.

The next night the Leafs travelled to Philadelphia along with Carlo Colaiacovo making his first appearance of the year. Kris Kringle delivered one last gift to Leafs fans everywhere as Herpes' Make-A-Wish adventure took a night off from tormenting fans. The worst defenceman in Leafs' history was in the press box as our long national nightmare appears to be at an end. Carlo's return didn't make an immediate impact as the Leafs lost 4-1 but long-term this change is huge. Once McCabe returns the Leafs will have five defencemen capable of logging important minutes and sharing the burden (and yes, I am actually including Ian White who has gone a long way to dispelling my concerns about his play).

The Leafs ended their seven game road-trip with a record of 2-3-2 for 6 points which, while not as strong as one might have hoped, is not quite the season-ending disaster that some of the Chicken Littles would have you believe.