Hockey Day in Canada
Canucks 6, Maple Leafs 1
'A tale of two goalies' is probably the best way to describe what happened Saturday night. Although to blame only Leafs netminder Andrew Raycroft, as the majority of Leafs Nation seemed to last night, wasn't altogether fair.
True, some of the goals he allowed were ugly — the flub on Sami Salo's shot from the point on the fifth goal comes to mind — but the beaten and weary Leafs didn't manage to muster much at the other end of the rink all night. Toronto outshot the Canucks 14-3 in the first period (Vancouver was shorthanded four times for hooking in the frame), and Roberto Luongo was unspectacularly solid, but as the game wore on into the midway point, you got the feeling it was going to take an exceptional effort to put more than one or two past him.
And the Leafs didn't have too many of those last night.
I was sitting way up withing grabbing distance of the ACC's rafters — and that, surprisingly, was as much Canuck country as anywhere in the building. There were even a couple of hideous Flying 'V' jerseys in attendance, and whenever Vancouver scored, the whoop! from the Canucks' faithful was just a smidgen louder than the groan from The Nation.
The outcome was sort of predictable coming in, with the Leafs missing a few key cogs and Vancouver playing their best hockey since before the lockout. The Canuck power play was deadly at 5-for-10, thanks in large part to the super-cycling Sedins.
Other than Bates Battaglia's nice individual effort on their lone goal, I can't think of a single Leaf who impressed last night (although, as I said, my $41 ticket — face valued anyway — didn't get me all that close to the action).
As for Raycroft's woes: The Leafs have to be kicking themselves for not giving Mikael Tellqvist more of a shot in goal this season. He's been terrific so far in Phoenix (7-3-2, 2.84, .910) with the Coyotes, and Toronto's been almost ridiculously reluctant to go with J-S Aubin (something about the .881 save percentage isn't so comforting) in relief of their obviously struggling starter.
The Leafs have a boatload of road games coming up (eight of the next nine), so it's sink-or-swim time. It didn't look promising yesterday.