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There's Something About Those Shootouts

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Recap | Box | Pics GI6 | Post | Coach | Antropov | Stajan | CuJo | Giguere | Parros

Maybe it’s the word.

Overtime doesn’t cut it.

Maybe ‘Undertime.’ What about ‘Over and Out Time.’  Perhaps, ‘ O My God, Let’s Not Do This Again Time.’

The Leafs dropped their third shootout of the season in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. That wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but for the fact that they have only played three overtime games.

Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry scored for the Ducks on Curtis Joseph. Ah, I know what you’re thinking. Vesa Toskala was due to start on Tuesday night. He did. But in a graphic demonstration of how little confidence Leafs coach Ron Wilson has in Toskala’s ability to stop penalty shots, Wilson went to the bullpen.

It was, Wilson said, a matter of having nothing to lose.

“Career wise, Cujo’s only been scored on 28 per cent of the time. On Tosk, teams have scored 54 per cent of the time. I’m not going to hesitate to do that until we get Tosk a little bit more practice in his way of thinking of stopping the other team in shootouts.”

The numbers say it was a great plan. Joseph thought so even if he was beaten on the only two shots he faced.

“The quick releases looks a little quicker when you’ve been sitting,” Joseph said.

“Just getting the quick twitch muscles right up (was a challenge), but if you never get an opportunity to try something like that, you’ll never be successful.”

Toskala was typically unbothered by the notion of carrying his team into extra innings and then surrendering the ball.

“I understood. I didn’t have any problem at all. As a team, we just have to find a way of getting those points,” he said.

The Leafs delivered a tepid first period. Francois Beauchemin scored on a well placed shot from the high slot to lift the visitors to a 1-0 just 4:36 in. Luke Schenn was caught going the wrong way because of a turnover at the Anaheim blue line and George Parros put a respectable shot past Toskala and the visitors had a 2-0 lead midway in the first period.

For the Ducks, that was about it. The Leafs outshot them 15-4 in the second and 13-0 in the third. Giguere was great.

Antropov scored twice on close-in shots after extended pressure.

Mikhail Grabovski had seven shots and Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Niklas Hagman had five each.

“We got pucks to the net, forechecked, moved the puck well,” said Wilson. “It’s too bad some guys like Grabovski and Hagman are playing so well but they’re not being rewarded. Eventually they will and then the dam will break.”

Wilson credited ice time maintenance in the improved performances of Matt Stajan and Ponikarovsky.

“They got excited to get some ice time,” Wilson said. “Both Stajan and Pony dropped down lower (in the lineup). It was a little shot across the bow. They’ve played as hard as I’ve seen them play since I got here and that’s a good sign.”

The Leafs, now 1-2-3, play Boston on Thursday. The Bruins lost to Buffalo 3-2 and sit 2-1-3.


Danny Lemelin, a Maple Leafs equipment manager from 1977 to 1992 died on October 14. He was 78.

Always affable and cheerful even during the tumultuous Harold Ballard years, Lemelin worked the lumber and leather while Guy Kinnear sewed up countless players and sent them back into the fray.

“Smokey Lemelin was a great guy,” said former Leaf Bob McGill. “His favourite joke was that he cut a stick three times to get it right and now it was too short.”

Lemelin, his real first name was Gaston, left behind a companion, Gloria Murphy, his son Daniel, daughter-in-law Susan and granddaughter Nicole. He was predeceased by his wife of 48 years, Mary.
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