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Leafs play to goaltender -- Part II

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Elliotte Friedman is a reporter and commentator at The Score, Canada's 24-hour sports highlights and information network. He has covered the Leafs extensively for a number of years and has a birds-eye view of what's going on with the Leafs and the NHL.

by Elliotte Friedman

Toronto finished the streak with a win in Boston. Six out of a possible eight points. No losses. Four goals allowed in four games. Who knows, Schwab may have been saving up for a down payment on a condo.

Schwab deserved all of the credit he was getting, but the effort in front of him was being overlooked. Without their security blanket, the Leafs tightened. Aside from the aforementioned lapses in the one game with Philly, there were no major gaffes. The team was airtight defensively, and it was consistent.

To be perfectly honest, it was the kind of hockey the team must play if it wants to be successful in the postseason. Then came Barrasso.

And it can?t be a coincidence that their first game with him was their worst in almost two weeks, a 5-5 tie with Dallas. It doesn?t matter that he didn?t even play, that Schwab was the goaltending victim of that assault.

Even though last year?s playoff battle with the Devils was lost in seven games, one Maple Leaf player has said that the team really was beaten after the first goal of Game 6. Joseph gave up a softie from the blueline, and the player said that?s when the team realized he was human and tiring. Seeing their goaltending rock crumble mentally deflated Toronto.

With Schwab, there was no such feeling of security, no such feeling that he alone could win them games. So, the skaters realized success was as much up to them as it was up to him.

But then they saw Barrasso, even if it was just on the bench. They looked at his resume: two Stanley Cup rings, A goalie with better pedigree than Joseph, a goalie having a better season than Joseph.

And that old feeling returned: We?ve got someone here who can take care of us, someone who can cover up our mistakes, someone who can give us a good result even when we play badly.

Chances are the Maple Leafs aren?t going to end 34 years of Stanley Cup frustration. But they?ve got no shot at all if they don?t adopt the defensive mentality they had in those tight four games, even if either Barrasso takes over or Joseph returns as the goaltending man.

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