Jan 19, 2002
There was a robbery performed in Toronto last night, and Roman Cechmanek was driving the Philadelphia Flyers getaway car. The Leafs had 31 shots against the goalie, including 9 on the powerplay...none went in. Two of the Flyers 26 shots beat Curtis Joseph, and another went into an empty net.
So...what really happens when you take a team like Toronto who has had a penchant recently of playing down to their opposition? Match them up against the best team in the conference, who happen to be riding a seven game winning streak before the game. In the first period, there were as many fights as there were shots on goal for Philadelphia, as the Leafs dominated early. Before the game was 90 seconds old, Tie Domi fought Donald Brashear, who finally seems to have toned down the hand wiping stuff - I wonder if Bill Barber or Bobby Clarke spoke to him about that. Three seconds after that fight, Wade Belak and Todd Fedoruk fought. Both fights didn't have too much action, and were draws. In the Leafs' practice yesterday, Tie Domi took a puck into the face, and was playing Saturday night with a decent shiner and a band-aid just under his right eye.
Later in the first, the Flyers killed off a 1:55 5-on-3 disadvantage (Well, Cechmanek killed it, it wasn't the Flyers penalty killing). Closely thereafter, Bryan McCabe fought Todd Fedoruk, and did well for himself against a heavyweight, in another draw on the night. With about 5 minutes left in the first, Domi and Brashear went again, and this time, Brashear's lefts abused the damage that had happened to Domi in yesterday's practice to score a win over the Albanian Assassin.
The hits came hard, heavy and often, with Jeremy Roenick, Keith Primeau, Darcy Tucker and Dimitry Yushkevitch all playing the body and finishing off their checks with thunderous results in the important conference game. The leafs did what any struggling team should try to do in the first period, they played physically and carried most of the offensive play, finishing the first with a 14-4 edge in shots on goal.
Of all people, Donald Brashear scored the opening goal of the game in the second period when he took a drop pass from Jeremy Roenick and fired a hard shot that beat Joesph's hand to the top shelf. Darcy Tucker, who had been hitting everything in sight made a miscue at the Philadelphia blueline, and missed Eric Weinrich, instead taking out his brother-in-law, Shayne Corson, the two hobbled to the bench only to return a couple of shifts later.
After a big hit on Justin Williams, Gary Roberts and Keith Primeau began pushing and shoving. Seconds later, Luke Richardson took a penalty for cross-checking Roberts in the side of the head. On the powerplay, Cechmanek shone, and even afterwards, when the Leafs kept up the pressure, until about 6 minutes left in the second. From there it was Joseph's turn to stymie any offensive chances during a Flyers powerplay, which the Leafs killed off.
Two shifts later, Cechmanek made his best stops of the night, stopping Mikeal Renberg, Jonas Hoglund and Shayne Corson with three brilliant stops, comine away out of his net to make the save on Renberg.
A minute into the third, Cechmanek got caught wandering away again, trying to stop Travis Green from coming in alone. Green sidestepped the diving Flyers goalie and passed the puck to Darcy Tucker, who couldn't put it in. I guess sometimes you have to be lucky to be good. A pretty passing play had Jonas Hoglund in all alone, forcing Cechmanek to make a good save with his foot jammed against the post. The puck was still loose for Captain Mats Sundin, second in the league in goals...and he only batted the puck under Cechmanek, unable to convert the chance (Do you see a pattern here?).
The Leafs scoring woes continue, now having scored only 5 goals in their past 4 games. On their 21st shot on goal, Justin Williams made the score 2-0, slapping in a rebound that had Joseph out of position. At that point, the Leafs had 26 shots on goal, and hadn't cracked Cechmanek's goose egg, but Kieth Primeau took an interferference call, giving the Leafs a chance to cut the lead in half. That would have, too, but Renberg rifled a shot into Cechmanek's glove.
Todd Fedoruk scored into an empty net, giving the Flyers enforcer two points on the night, having already assisted on Williams' goal. Once the game was decided, Darcy Tucker and Luke Richardson went after each other, and Tucker handled himself well against the big Flyers defenseman, knocking him to the ice.
The Leafs need to find something to take out of this game. It was a hot goalie that stopped them in the best team game they've played in two or three weeks. If they keep their work ethic the same, expect the Leafs to bounce back quickly from this most recent setback and start scoring - and winning - again.
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