A team cannot finally decide to show up in the third period and expect that they will pull out a win. That is obviously the assumption that the Toronto Maple Leafs had when they arrived at the Bell Centre in Montreal this evening. Tonight’s loss, as I followed along on NHL.com while writing a paper, frustrated me to no end. Letting Montreal get a 5-2 by the end of the second period was brutal, as far as I’m concerned, and Raycroft’s stats certainly didn’t get any help as he allowed 5 goals on 16 shots and was pulled in favour of Jean-Sebastien Aubin 12:28 into the second period. Then, all of a sudden, in the third the Leafs decide to pour it on, getting two quick goals from call-up Jeremy Williams and Alex Steen to cut the lead to one. My question is, WHERE WAS THAT TEAM DURING THE FIRST 40 MINUTES??? I don’t know how you can take 12 more shots than the opposition, including outshooting them 14-5 in the third, and still lose the game! By winning the game 5-4, the Habs take over seventh place in the Eastern Conference (with 72 points) while the Leafs remain in tenth with 69 points, one point behind the Islanders in ninth, and two points behind the defending Cup champion Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot. Better start polishing your clubs boys, because the way you're going you'll be out on the links before you know it!
It just doesn’t seem to me that the Leafs want to make the playoffs badly enough to concentrate for extended periods of time. Playing one good period per game ISN’T GOING TO GET THE JOB DONE, BOYS. The Oilers of last year competed constantly and wanted it so badly that they were willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. I don’t see the same kind of dedication from the Buds, I am sorry to say. And what frustrates me most is that they have the talent to compete with anyone in this league when they decide not to play like a pee-wee team. They can be disciplined defensively, they can score goals, and Raycroft CAN play goal (no matter what doubts fans have about him), but they never seem to be able to keep it together for any extended period of time.
As for the trade deadline tomorrow, there are rumours that the Leafs are looking at Gary Roberts, but I don’t know if that is going to go through. They signed Tucker today to multi-year deal with approximately $3 million per season. I am not sure what I think about this, to be honest. It seems like an awful lot of money and cap space and I am not sure that Tucker is worth quite that much bizmarquee, but what do I know—John Ferguson Junior is the real genius! Look for my thoughts on trades, should any involve the Leafs, in the next couple days.