February 07, 2007


Redemption - noun.
1. an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed.
2. deliverance; rescue.

The Leafs won again on the road, a 2-1 triumph in St. Louis. That's eight wins in their last nine road games, and four in a row on this five game road trip - their longest of the season. Road Warriors, to say the least.

Andrew Raycroft has redeemed himself. He was once again spectacular in what was a dull and, at times, boring game. A game in which the goalie needed to be mentally sound, and Raycroft was just that.

Razor's save in the third period, on Bill Guerin, who had an empty net, was, like the Cash 4 Life cat says, "FANTASTIC!"

Pure robbery, please! It was definitely worth a couple of rewind's on the PVR. The save reminded me of Felix Potvin, circa 1993, in the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks, lunging across his net to catch the puck.

That save by Razor won the game for the Leafs. He only faced 20 shots, but made a number of quality saves.

The second part of the definition of redemption is deliverance, and rescue.

Razor has delivered, and Razor has rescued this Leafs team a number of times over their recent hot stretch. He's stolen games and been a rock between the pipes. His positional play has been as solid as it's ever been. He's square to every shot and he's really coming out of his crease and challenging the shooters. If they're going to beat him, they're going to beat him because they've made the perfect shot.

Razor has really been great, and you can see how the team feeds off his confidence. Everyone is plugging away right now, and keeping the game simple. The fact that the Leafs are on a five game win steak is a shock in itself, but to think that four of the five wins have come on the road, in some tough buildings, and in a shootout, well, I probably wouldn't have believed you if you told me a month ago that this would be the case.

Hockey is a game of "what have you done for me lately", and Raycroft has done quite a lot for me lately. So props to him. The Leafs are still not in playoff position, but they're in the thick of the race, with a couple of games in hand. My philosophy is don't look at the standings. The Leafs just need to worry about themselves right now. If they win their games, the goal of making the playoffs will take care of itself. The Eastern Conference is so tight that the standings are meaningless right now, there's just too many games left.

And remember, all they have to do is make it. Edmonton was the 8th seed last year, lest we forget.

Less than 10,000 fans showed up in St. Louis to watch the game against the Leafs. After watching this game, I understand why so few fans are showing up. The Blues play some nasty hockey. The majority of the game was spent in the neutral zone. The Blues outshot the Leafs 20-16. Hardly an offensive game. It was one of those grinding road victories for the Leafs, and they'll take the points any which way.

Steen played a good game. He scored his 11th of the season, and it turned out to be the game winner. That's his fifth game winning goal of the season, tops on the Leafs. Sundin only has two this year. Steen's goals have definitely been timely.

Stajan was all over the ice tonight too. He made some nice passes and hit a post off a nice feed from Steen. He's playing ok, I guess. I just wish he didn't get knocked off the puck so easily. I'm trying to like him, really.

Ponikarovsky scored his 14th of the year. I need him to score seven more in the remaining 28 games. I think it's possible. I beleaf in the PONI.

I've got to shoutout Nik Antropov - he was instrumental on Poni's goal. He didn't get an assist, but he kept the play alive down low during the power play, about 10 seconds before Poni scored. Antropov had the puck behind the net and the St. Louis defenseman charged at him, and Antropov just stood tall and the defenseman bounced off him and hit the ice. It was a sight to see. Antropov and Poni are just awesome to watch down low. Antropov has finally figured out how to use his lanky Kazakh ass to protect the puck, and he's doing it regularly now. He's huge.

I read that Poni is launching his own personal website later on this week. He deserves his own website. Hopefully he'll call it The Poni Express. The Leafs are undefeated, 11-0-2, when Poni finds the back of the net. Suck on that, 40!

The march towards the playoffs is on. The trading deadline is only three weeks away. Sergei Samsonov was placed on waivers today by the Canadiens. I would imagine he'd look great in a Leafs uniform, especially with Sundin, but I don't think the Leafs can fit him under the cap right now. Plus, I don't think I'd want to tinker with the Leafs' roster right now. This unit is playing well, although Tucker should be back in the lineup soon. He better be back soon - I've got him on my fantasy team and could use some of his power play goals.

I hope the Leafs get Tucker's name on a contract soon. With the way the team is rolling, I doubt the Leafs are going into the trade deadline as sellers. Maybe they will be buyers. Maybe JFJ has a trick up his sleeve. Probably not, because he's a jackass, but who knows? Good hockey players like Ladislav Nagy and Shane Doan are available. I love this time of year, and especially Trade Deadline day. It's a rush.

A big test for the Leafs on Thursday in Nashville. If Raycroft keeps playing the way he is, I can see the Leafs coming back to Toronto with an undefeated road trip under their belt.

In other sporting news, the Colts won the Super Bowl! Old news, I know. The game was exciting - well the first quarter sure was. The rest, not so much. There just wasn't the intensity that was so prevelant in the Colts/Patriots game. The Super Bowl came down to Manning vs Grossman, and Rex certainly put the GROSS in Grossman. He was awful. It was no contest. The better team won. Peyton finally got his ring. He'll go down as one of the best quarterbacks ever, and he's deserving of the title. I'm sure Dan Marino's hella jealous of him.

And OUR Toronto Raptors are 3.5 games up on New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. The Nets have lost four in a row, while the Raps have won three in a row. These Raptors certainly look like they're for real, and people are finally starting to notice.

SI.com's NBA webpage has got a feature on Chris Bosh - "The Lead Man" - and the upstart Toronto Raptors.

The Vince Carter era in Toronto is finally, mercifully, being forgotten. It's a new era, with a new superstar, and a true leader - CB4. People are finally starting to notice, and notice they should, because like I said, these Raptors are for real.

Check out the layout:

Goodnight, Toronto...