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Playing With The Puck

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


by John McCauley
October 30, 2005

(TORONTO) -- After years of foiling the opposition with his deft puck handling ability, Ed Belfour has had a tough time adjusting to the limitiations that have been put on his ability.

No longer can he skate into the corners and promptly rip the puck back out of the zone the way his defenceman had previously relied upon. In his two seasons with the team he could always be considered the third defenceman. His puck play took the pressure off when teams where playing the dump and chase. A very valuable tool. Just ask the New Jersey Devils.

Now though, it seems as the trust is gone between Belfour and his defensive corps. They don't know if he is going to play the puck, and when he does they don't seem to know where he's sending the pass. The confusion set in once again Saturday night as the Leafs were dominated by the Ottawa Senators in a 8-0 loss and Ed Belfour was pulled in favour of Mikael Tellqvist after a little more than 24 minutes of action and five goals against.

It wasn't that Pat Quinn was upset with his goaltender rather he wanted to save him from what would end up being one of the most lopsided losses in recent memory.

"Right now you feel like everyone is lousy ... but we're not," said head coach Pat Quinn. "There's a danger in over-analyzing a game like tonight when evaluating people."

"We have to take this for what is was ... pretty lousy."

On the Senators first goal, Belfour tried to reverse the flow and passed the puck directly onto the stick of Daniel Alfredsson, who promptly zipped a pass to a wide open Mike Fisher in the slot. Had the Leafs netminder just let the puck go around the net the goal may not have happened.

Ken Klee and Alexander Khavanov didn't seem to know what Belfour was up to and in the process left Fisher completely unattended.

"You have to have good communication back there when you are playing the puck. We're still trying to work our way through it ," Belfour said.

These types of goals are devastating for a team especially when they come about less than two minutes into the game. From that point the Senators imposed their will on the Leafs in every facet of the game.

"We're not playing like a team right now and when you play like individuals you're not successful," said Quinn.

Belfour isn't the only goalie having troubles with the new rules restricting puck play. His old back up in Dallas Marty Turco has been fumbling just as much.

What it is going to take for Belfour to get used to the new rules is simple ... time and Quinn will be giving him plenty of that over the next couple months.

"It would be easy to blame people," said Quinn. "We lost hard tonight and it doesn't feel very good. It's in our hands and now we're going to have to do something about."

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