Well, thankfull that streak is over. The Leafs stretched their winning streak to three games with a 4-2 win over the Sabres before falling 3-2 against the Devils. Despite the three wins the Leafs remain entrenched in 28th place in the NHL. Thankfully the teams around them in the basement were also winning games in a futile effort to make the playoffs.
I am actually happy that the Leafs beat the Sabres since it was Leukemia awareness night and Jason Blake's wife gave a nice interview about some of the events that were taking place throughout the night. That the insurance marker came off of the stick of Jason Blake was about as scripted as it could get. Seeing him streak down the wing and rip a wrist shot past Miller gave fans a glimpse of what Blake is capable of doing. Certainly it is what was expected of him rather than bouncing pucks in off of goalies and fist pumping down the ice.
It was certainly frustrating to see a team that had just beat the Thrashers 10-1 play so poorly but it's shouldn't be a surprise considering the Leafs always look terrible after blowing someone out. A friend tried to assuage my rage when the score was 3-1 by reminding me that that was a good score "Two goals right? The Leafs always blow two goal leads." Unfortunately, Saturday night they decided to go against the grain.
Sunday's game was obviously on the backburner as the AFC Championship was being played. Anyone think that Belichick might be able to learn how to coach hockey? In a shocking move, Raycroft got the start. When I realized that he was getting ANOTHER chance I was initially angry because the Leafs were starting to suck me back in but I quickly realized that Raycroft would be a boon to our Slide/Drive/Blow Up hopes and he didn't disappoint. The first goal came on a Classic Raycroft Blunder when he gave out a huge rebound, the second came when he cheated on a two-on-one which opened his five-hole for a puck that deflected off of Ian White's skate, and the third came courtesy of the kind of goal that only victimises cursed goaltenders.
While I was glad to see Raycroft in net it did bring into question Paul Maurice's decision making once again. Usually it's his use of timeouts but once again it's his use of his goalies that leaves me questioning his logic. Assuming that the Leafs are actually serious about making the playoffs why would you start Andrew Raycroft when you have already had Toskala play back-to-back games twice this year. Especially when you consider that Toskala just came off a long rest and wouldn't be as over-worked as he would be otherwise. Rest received such little consideration when you were throwing VeTo in against the Kings less than a week after his return from a groin strain. Sure, he has to do it Wednesday-Thursday this week but again, he's not tired, and last year you had Raycroft start 41 of the last 42 games of the year.
Just kidding, I know the answer. The two times that Toskala has played in both ends of a back-to-back situation he has given up 7 goals on 55 shots. The first time was the Phoenix debacle that Raycroft actually started and the latter was the Montreal disaster that I attended. Both losses were due more to the Leafs' terrible play in the second game and maybe Maurice wanted to protect Vesa from the egg that he anticipated that the Leafs would lay. Or maybe he should have worked harder at getting the Leafs ready for the Devils because with VeTo in net last night the Leafs would have been returning home with a four-game winning streak. So, actually, thank God for Maurice's lack of faith in his motivational skills.
Steen won player of the game honours for Thursday's game against the Bruins and I'll leave it to you folks to pick a player of the weekend in the comments to ensure that defensive prowess isn't given short-thrift by me.