TORONTO -- Given the 82-game length of an NHL season, it's no surprise that sometime during the campaign a team is going to go off the deep end.
It's the ability to recover that will decide its future success.
The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered its swoon after a mistake prone first 18 games. The record read a disappointing 6-10-2 and it looked as though retooling would be needed to even get close to the playoffs.
| This one was not for the faint of heart. |
Graig Abel Photography
Boston on the other hand was flying high to start the season. The losses of Byron Dafoe, Kyle McClaren and Bill Guerin in the offseason were supposed to slow them to halt, but it didn't happen. A 16-3-3-1 start had them in the Northeast division lead and atop the league standings.
Most believed only a miracle would allow the Leafs to catch the Bruins, even head coach Pat Quinn thought it was unlikely. Well even smartest hockey minds couldn't predict that the Bruins would come back down to earth amid injury woes and less than spectacular goaltending.
Just five wins in the next 17 games, including a 5-2 loss to the Leafs Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre, has the Bruins tied at 47 points with the Blue and White. Five different Leafs scored goals for the victory. Toronto is now undefeated in 12 games on home ice.
"They've (Boston) cooled off a bit," said Alyn McCauley, who scored his first goal in 27 games. "It would be nice if Ottawa did the same."
Ed Belfour did his part stopping 40 shots. The veteran netminder has stopped 90 pucks in his last two outings and has been the catalyst to the Leafs resurgence.
"We just took it one game at a time," Belfour said. "Just trying to put points on the board."
Tie Domi believes that Belfour is the main reason why the team is looking strong heading into the second half of the season.
"You get confidence winning. Eddie gives us confidence every night," Domi explained. "It all started with Eddie and then we had to step it up."
The change of fortune for both Bruins and the Leafs couldn't have been predicted, but Quinn admitted that everything normally evens out with good teams.
"We knew we were playing under our level of capability and they were probably playing a little over," Quinn said. "Now we're more where we're supposed to be." NOTES
: Wade Belak pummeled Krzysztof Oliwa in a third-period fight after some pushing and shoving took place as the buzzer sounded to end the second period. Bruins forward Rob Zamuner broke his ankle Tie Domi tied his last year's goal total with his ninth of the year