The Leafs held on again for another win last night, thank the sweet Lord above, as they defeated Ottawa 3-2 in a rousing 'Battle of Ontario', celebrating my birthday in grand style. Andrew Raycroft was once again sparkling in goal, holding the Sens scoreless through two periods before giving up a couple in the third. He turned away 30 of 32 shots and gave up only one goal in the shootout, to Antoine Vermette. Overall the defence played very well, despite a few mistakes and John Pohl was the hero in the shootout, thanks to captain Mats Sundin signalling coach Paul Maurice that the fourth line center should be his next shooter. As much as I hate to, credit must be given to the Sens for a great game and a fine effort in clawing their way back into the game after being thoroughly outplayed for the first 40 minutes.
Despite injuries to key players Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca, and Kyle Wellwood, the Leafs managed to get through January with a surprising 8-4 record. However, they were utterly humiliated in two of those losses by the Canucks (6-1) and the Penguins (8-2). Plus, their road record is awesome whereas they can't really seem to get it together at the ACC. The Buds are one game out of eighth in the Eastern Conference, but if they can keep up this kind of play down the stretch it's safe to say that they will be playoff bound. I have no predictions about the trade deadline, the status of Tucker and/or Sundin or anything else so don't expect me to weigh in on any of that. The key to success: GOALTENDING. If Raycroft continues playing hot, the Buds will ride it into the post-season. I am praying that he continues down the road to regaining the form that saw him win the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 2004.
I hope you hockey fans enjoy reading this blog, even if you are not Leafs fans. I plan to keep most of my Leaf-related writing on here and keep the Bing Dynasty for everything else (music, Lit, faith commentary, enraged non-hockey related rantings, etc.). Look for me to post after most games with opinions and predictions for the future. I look forward to writing about the Leafs and hope you enjoy reading it. Cheers!