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Schwab vs. Cujo: A Matter of Confidence -- Part II

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Andrew Podnieks is the author of numerous hockey books including an updated version of The Blue and White Book for the 2001-02 season, Portraits of the Game, Canada's Olympic Hockey Teams, and The NHL All-Star Game: Fifty Years of the Great Tradition. He also writes a column called "Pods Shots" for the Hockey Hall of Fame Web site.

by Andrew Podnieks


The winner was scored by Pavel Bure on a nice play. It was an NHL quality goal, and you couldn't blame Schwab on it. But, if he had made the save the outcome of the game might have been much different, and at the NHL level, goalies have to make those saves occasionally. Not every time, but some of the time.

The saying about Curtis Joseph is that he plays his best based on the situation of a game. He might give up a bad goal with the score 4-0 (either way), but when the score is 1-1, he generally makes the big save to keep the score tied.

Teammates feed off that kind of play. When the goalie makes a great save, they gain confidence in their chances to win and their own ability to score. Similarly, a bad goal deflates the team.

Opponents recognize these qualities of goaltending as well. If they score a fluky goal, they gain confidence and go on the attack to try and fluster the goalie further.

If they are frustrated by great goaltending, they generally play more poorly defensively because they know they can't count on a goal to win the game. It might be a trite expression but it is also often true: a great save at one end is followed by a goal at the other end.

And so, although Corey Schwab has filled in admirably for Curtis Joseph, he has not proved the Leafs can win without Cujo, and he has played in a way that clearly indicates the Leafs playoff success will depend largely on how well and quickly Cujo can return to top form.

Schwab is an excellent NHL-calibre goalie; Cujo is an intimidating presence.

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