Leafs Recovery In Carolina a Good Sign
Monday, 03.11.2003 / 3:00 PM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
|Heading into his third season with Leafs TV, roving reporter Bob Harwood follows the Leafs like no other on the beat. You can watch Bob during pre and postgame on Leafs TV.|
(TORONTO) -- It was critical for the Maple Leafs to live up to one of the all-time great sports clichés, "We're glad to have a chance to get right back on the horse and play another one tomorrow night" following their 7-1 (insert adjective here!!!!) loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
The horse they rode was more plow-horse than palomino, but to some degree, a necessary choice considering they were tackling, and being tackled by the Carolina Hurricanes, who employed their usual law firm of Clutch, Hook'em, Hold'em and Grab for 60 minutes. (A bit of a shame, really, when you look at some of the firepower and pure talent in that lineup!).
Having said that, there is some value to the Leafs ability to win a game on the road, after a night that left the team wide open to criticism about commitment.
It is certainly not Pat Quinn's favourite way to approach the game, and obviously not the most ideal use of the talent he has in his stable, but when the thoroughbreds are stumbling, basic duties, even ugly hockey, can be a sight for sore eyes.
Under different conditions, for various reasons, there have been three or four games this season that have screamed for the Leafs to come up with an explosive, bury-these-guys approach and energy, but saw them fail to deliver the needed effort or result.
As they try again to build momentum, the Leafs needed to look at Pittsburgh as the next vulnerable opponent, jugular exposed, much weaker on paper, able to b eout-performed. They came out and fore-checked their way into scoring chances. And something they haven't shown much of this season, a simple approach that saw them fire pucks toward the net through traffic to generate easy second chances, was a big part of their success over the Pens. This team has struggled when it complicates things. Success came in simplicity against Pittsburgh.
One other very positive aspect of their 2-1 win over Carolina was the rock-solid play of young Mikael Tellqvist.
The Leafs put up two very different efforts in his wins over Phoenix and Carolina, but in both he has not only flashed an ability to pull off dramatic, acrobatic saves as the last line of defence, he's demonstrated a tremendous improvement in what was an area of concern in the recent past.
Tellqvist has a very keen sense of knowing where the puck is and playing the shooter one-on-one. This is a confident goaltender who has quietly proven he is worthy of an NHL job. "