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Benchboss ruins great matchup

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Legions of Toronto Maple Leafs fans could have collectively closed the book on the Curtis Joseph era Saturday night, but instead another chapter will need to be written somewhere down the line.

Red Wings' head coach Dave Lewis negated the most anticipated regular season matchup by inserting backup goalie Manny Legace in Detroit's only visit to Air Canada Centre this season.

Brett Hull thought Curtis should have played.
Graig Abel Photography
As far as results go it worked like a charm. The Red Wings came away with a 2-1 victory on the merits of Legacy's hot goaltending while Curtis Joseph avoided all the pressure and media turmoil his participation would have caused. As it was most of the talk surrounded Cujo even though he didn't break a sweat.

Pat Quinn held up his end of the bargain by putting Ed Belfour between the pipes for the Leafs and his man responded with another strong performance. The fans, who haven't been all that patient with Belfour early in his tenure, chanted his name a couple times after strong saves.

"There was a real case being made against him early on but he had nothing to do with it," Quinn said. "Everybody takes adjustment time, I don't care how good you are."

"It's really nice to hear, I'm thankful for their support," Belfour commented after his 30 save loss.

Legace didn't need any help from the smattering of Red Wing supporters. The Toronto native stonewalled the Leafs at will on the powerplay in the first and third periods. The win almost meant as much to him as it would have to Joseph.

"My Dad was in the stands it was phenomenal," Legace beamed after his 30 save performance. "It was a good experience to play."

The Detroit backup is looking forward to giving his uncles, who are Leafs fans, a good bunch of ribbing over the phone in the next day or two. It's clear that his play gave Toronto something to remember him by.

"We've made a star out of a lot of goaltenders, but his outings this year seem to be good," Quinn said. "Their coaching staff has been happy with his play and it's good to have two guys that you can throw in there."

Any story line involving Curtis Joseph is going to be big in Toronto although the players don't seem to be caught up in his return.

"There's a lot of good players that have changed teams and he's just one of them," Mikael Renberg said. "To me it was a big game because we were playing the Stanley Cup champions not Curtis Joseph."

Point taken, but imagine how much more interesting the game would have been.

  • Alex Mogilny left the game with a neck problem in the third period. He isn't expected to miss any time.
  • Nik Antropov has been medically approved to play and will Tuesday night. This may spell the end to Josh Holden's days with the big club.
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