Last night’s game against the Pens was a tough one to watch, but I was very impressed with how the Leafs battled back, led by the increasingly gritty and frustrated Mats Sundin. To come back from being down 3-0 to a team with superior talent and speed showed that the Buds have some backbone because they could have easily given up after Pittsburgh scored their third goal. I was shocked about how well the unit of Bates Battaglia, Boyd Devereaux, and Chad Kilger played all night, grinding it out down low and it led to two goals from their line. They were taking the body and controlling the puck well, for grinders, in the Pens zone.
I had a few complaints about the game. Nik Antropov took an untimely and unnecessary penalty that lost the Leafs their man advantage in overtime. Matt Stajan was often irresponsible with the puck and made some errors that could have been disastrous had the Pens capitalized on them. I have asked this next question and I’ll ask it again: is Brian McCabe worth his multi-million dollar salary? Emphatically NO! This guy is one of the poorest defensive defensemen in the league and he again showed it last night, making some absolutely boneheaded moves with the puck that had me almost apoplectic with rage. This man is a power play specialist, nothing more. He has a gun of a slap shot that we all love watching him unleash, but he is a poor 5-on-5 player and seems to freak out whenever he is put under pressure in his own end, which leads him to cough up the puck at extremely inopportune times.
Raycroft was pretty sharp, I thought, all night, but was not helped out by the fact that his team couldn’t hold on to a lead (surprise, surprise) after valiantly clawing their way back into the game. Plus, Jordan Staal had the hot hand, scoring his first career hat trick. Unfortunately, on Staal’s last goal McCabe flopped too early and allowed Staal to get around him and have a clear shot on Raycroft. Kris Newbury hit his head on the ice after being knocked out standing by Ronald Petrovicky after dropping the gloves and the news is that there is no spinal or skull damage, more likely a severe concussion.
Overall the game was fun to watch, especially as the Leafs got back into it (though you wouldn’t have wanted to be watching with me, as Caitlin can attest to) and thankfully they managed to get a point out of a game that looked all but lost at one point in the second period. Let’s hope they can finish off the Islanders on Tuesday.
Oh yeah, Crosby and Co. are the real deal, no doubt about it...