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Tellqvist making a statement

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley


TORONTO - Last season Mikael Tellqvist was supposed to be Curtis Joseph's heir apparent, instead he found himself airing out his equipment in St. John's.

This season, barring injury, there isn't a spot for Tellqvist to win but he's playing like he has something to prove.

Tellqvist has not been scored on in a 57:18 minutes of preseason play.
Graig Abel Photography
The Swedish netminder stopped all 14 shots he faced in the Leafs 3-3 tie with the Sabres on Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre. When he left the net the game was scoreless. His probable St. John's partner, Sebastien Centomo, allowed the three Buffalo goals.

It was the second straight shutout appearance for the 23-year-old, the first coming Tuesday night against the Stanley Cup Champions. In that 3-2 loss he blocked 12 shots, but most importantly he appears to have regained the confidence last year's taste of the big time took from him.

"I feel more mature. I know what it's all about now," said Tellqvist, who has a picture of Swedish and Leaf great Borje Salming painted on his mask as a tribute. "Everything was new to me last year, I'm mean being in a new country, and a new language."

Tellqvist wasn't challenging the shooters and that made cutting down the angles difficult in his first training camp. GM/coach Pat Quinn likes the improvements his young goalie has made.

"Europeans, early on, one of the reasons that have trouble is they don't face the shooter," Quinn said "We didn't do a good job in front of him and I think he lost his confidence last year."

Even though last season was difficult, Tellqvist didn't give up. He stills hopes to fill an NHL net one day. His girlfriend was one of the main reasons he didn't get too down on himself when he went 8-11-6 with St. John's.

"My girlfriend helped me a lot last year. She supported me when I had some tough moments. Of course I wanted to go home sometimes when you don't play that much," Tellqvist said before showing his lighter side. "She's played goalie twice so she's one of my biggest critics."

Tellqvist is now prepared to tackle his sophomore year with the intention of showing the organization exactly what they have in him.

"I feel better than I did last year," Tellqvist said. "You can always get quicker, and I'm not a big goalie so I have to be quicker."

Tellqvist got the start because Eddie Belfour is suffering from an upper-body injury. The veteran netminder stiffened up during the morning skate but it isn't expected to be serious. Quinn said he has a shot at playing some time this weekend.

THIS AND THAT

Tie Domi has been talking in the preseason about youngsters challenging him to fights to try and up their enforcer value. Domi obliged Senator Wade Brookbank on Sunday but walked away from an early first-period tussle with Sabre Andrew Peters. The Buffalo winger ended up with penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. ... Karel Pilar broke the glass with a wicked shot from the high slot during an odd man rush with Travis Green. Domi helped clean up the glass for the game operations crew. ... Hoglund missed a first-period breakaway on Mika Noronen. ... Mikael Renberg fell awkwardly into the boards while trying to retrieve the puck in his own end, but returned to action. ... Alyn McCauley played in his first preseason game and scored a goal. ... The Leafs managed just two shots in the second period while the Sabres had five. ... Tom Fitzgerald scored his first two goals as a Leaf. ... Quinn said the team will probably be cut down to 30 players by Sunday if not sooner.
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