As I write this the other games are going as badly as they possibly could for the Leafs. Boston has won, Florida is about to win, Atlanta is winning, and Washington won. About the only good thing is that Buffalo is winning and if they can hold on they'll leapt past the Leafs into 27th place.
Last night I expressed some admiration for John Erskine's hitting ability. Unfortunately, tonight he decided to play like a misplaced Flyer. First he hit Antropov from behind on a blatantly dirty play (the puck was long gone and Antro was off-balance) and then, as time expired, he speared Blake in the grapes. On top of that, to make an uneven trio of dirty hits from behind, some guy name Steckel hit Ian White from behind. Added to last night's hit which knocked Ponikarovsky out for six weeks that makes three absolutely unacceptable hits. The Leafs' response to all of this: * crickets *. Since Belak did not dress Eminger went unpunished for last night's hit and tonight the Capitals took liberties with the Leafs all night running all over the ice to lay big hits and even resorting to hitting vulnerable players all with impunity since no one on the Leafs had the guts to do something about it.
Instead of the logical move of inserting Belak into the lineup (so logical that I guessed at it), Pohl took to the ice and in an even more surprising move Kyle Wellwood was a healthy scratch in favour of Darryl Boyce (8-16-24 + 18 in 41 GP with the Marlies) who was a summer signing by JFJ from the University of New Brunswick. He did not play much but when he did he was defensively sound although he is another small forward. The Leafs are starting to look like the old Nintendo hockey game with too many little skinny guys and not enough big boomers. Wellwood should take this scratching as a wake up call to get his act together. Steen left the game with a shoulder injury. I felt bad because for a second I was hoping he was hurt as bad as Pony so that Cliff would not decide to trade him.
The best Leafs on the night were Boyd Devereaux and impending free agent Dominic Moore. They actually created most of the good scoring chances tonight and continued to form an energetic duo. Moore has provided Devo with a running mate since his arrival off of waivers and I wouldn't mind seeing him back next year on the fourth line if he continues this way.
So the Leafs head into the all-star break with 48 points from 51 games which puts them on pace for 77 points which will be about 13 points short of a playoff spot. Meanwhile, everyone that they were competing with picked up at least one point. 32 days to the trade deadline. Clock's ticking Cliff.
Who was the Leafs' Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Dominic Moore (14 minutes and created the best scoring chances)
Boyd Devereaux (1 goal - gelling well with Moore)
Vesa Toskala (18 saves)