He wanted to play a full game so he could be ready for the season-opener, but after the Leafs' 2-2 tie Detroit on Sunday night at Air Canada Centre, Curtis Joseph is in midseason form. Joseph, who's only played sporadically in four games, was spectacular in the Leafs' final preseason game.
In typical fashion, Joseph saved a porous Leaf defence and made one incredible stop after another in a 35-save performance. Joseph is completley healthy heading into the first regular season game against Ottawa on Wednesday night. Last year, he suffered a groin injury and didn't start camp until the final week.
Aside from spending a full training camp with the Leafs, Joseph also took part in a four-day orientation camp with Canada's National Team in Calgary. Facing some of the world's best snipers for a few days has definitely given Joseph an edge.
"Between the four days there and our camp it helps," he said. "In preseason as a goalie you want more shots. The bottom line is hopefully your more ready for the season. You want to stay sharp and get lots of shots. That's what's important."
Joseph's play on Sunday night sent the crowd at Air Canada Centre into a frenzy. In the third period with the Leafs killing a two-man penalty, Joseph made five stellar saves that got the fans chanting "Cujo, Cujo". In overtime, Joseph robbed Red Wing forward Kris Draper three times including two breakaways. It left Draper shaking his head in disbelief.
"If it wasn't for Cujo tonight it would have been a Detroit win for sure," said Leaf forward Gary Roberts. "This guy is unbelievable. He continues to put us in every hockey game and when you have a guy in there like that who gives you the opportunity to win when you don't play your best hockey then that's pretty impressive."
While Leafs Coach Pat Quinn was impressed with Joseph's performance, he wasn't pleased with the way his team played defensively. The Leaf defence has struggled all preseason with giveaways and it has frustrated the coaching staff.
"We aren't' thinking about winning hockey games," said Quinn. "It's bothersome and I don't like what I see. We might as well have kept everybody on the bench in overtime. We kept giving up the puck time after time. A little bit of panic set in and those are things you don't like to see."
What Quinn did like was the way his goaltender bailed out his teammates for yet another night.