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6,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coming off of a 3-game road trip that saw them hand the Buffalo Sabres their first regulation time loss of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs return home to face the rival Philadelphia Flyers. (7:30PM ET)

Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft stopped 29 shots in a 4-1 victory over Buffalo, and earned one of the NHL's 3 Stars of the week with his solid play, going 3-0-0 with a 1.67 Goals Against Average and a .943 Save Percentage.

He decided to downplay the honours:

Andrew Raycroft said:
"It doesn't matter, this week would have been exactly the same if I had been the 50th star of the week. No big deal. It's a nice honour, it's cool to be recognized but it doesn't mean anything."
He has now dropped his Goals Against Average to 2.87 and has a .904 Save Percentage.

Darcy Tucker continued to own the hot hands, scoring his 10th goals of the season, and team leading 8th on the Powerplay.

Captain Mats Sundin collected 3 points in the victory over the Sabres (2G, 1A), leading by example on the ice, and now on the points list. He now has 18 points in 16 games (8G, 10A).

The Leafs are 8-5-3 in their first 16 games, 2nd in their Division and 4th in the East.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are having the worst start to their season in a decade. A 1-6-1 record saw long time Flyer fan favourite, General Manager Bobby Clarke, stepping down, and the firing of Stanley Cup winning Head Coach Ken Hitchock along with it. Since then, new Head Coach John Stevens has taken over the reigns behind the bench, but the Flyers continue to struggle by going 2-3-0 since the management changes 5 games ago, and the team posts a total 3-9-1 record through their first 13 games.

Their last game saw them allowing 4 goals in the first period from the energized Washington Capitals, in a 5-3 loss. It was Washington's first win in Philadelphia in 16 visits.

Philly Captain, Peter Forsberg, has been criticized by some for some of the decisions that he has made so far this year, and he continues to vent in what is a frustrating time for the Flyers:

Peter Forsberg said:
''We talked about having a good start, and we came out down 4-1. To be honest, we aren't playing good enough to win any hockey games, either. Right now it's just a tough time and if you don't work hard, we're not going to get out of it.''
Simon Hagne leads the team with 7 goals and 10 Points (4 in his last 3), while Defenceman Joni Pitkanen has 8 assists.

Goaltender, Antero Niittymaki decided not to have surgery on a hip that had been bothering him before the season. He is posting a bloated 3.03 Goals Against Average and an .888 Save Percentage in 10 games. The Flyers didn't think they could rely on Robert Esche to carry them until Niittymaki's return (which was originally scheduled for 4 months into the season), so the Flyers Goalie decided it in the best interest of the team to put it off until the end of the season.

With Niittymaki going in and out of the starting role, back-up goalie Robert Esche has so far been proving the Flyers right, allowing 9 goals in a 9-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres 2 weeks into the season after criticising then Coach, Ken Hichcock for not playing him. He's currently showing a 5.42 Goals Against Average and .814 Save Percentage through 5 games.

The Flyers are last in their division with 7 points, and last in the NHL.

There were rumours of a possible return from Maple Leafs Defenceman Pavel Kubina for tonight's game in Philly, but so far it seems more likely that he'll be a go against Boston on Thursday.

6,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Flyers there for taking

But Leafs won't treat Philly lightly


In one of the lowest points in Philadelphia Flyers history, former bench boss Ken Hitchcock is trying to take the high road.

It can't be easy.

Relieved of his coaching duties on the same day last month that long-time general manager Bob Clarke resigned, Hitchcock has swallowed his pride and is throwing all his efforts into serving as both a Flyers scout and an advisor to interim GM Paul Holmgren.

"The tough times are over," Hitchcock said yesterday in a phone interview.

Maybe that's the case for Hitchcock.

But it hardly seems that way for his team.

Chaos reigns supreme both on and off the ice throughout this once-proud franchise, which has come out of the gates just 3-9-1 -- the worst start through 13 games in Flyers history.

On the surface, those dismal numbers might make the Maple Leafs overconfident heading into their meeting with the struggling "Broad St. Bullies" tonight at the Air Canada Centre.
CANOE -- SLAM! Sports - Hockey NHL - Toronto: Flyers there for taking

That's my main concern. Toronto has been known for years to be the team that turns another team's fortune's around.

When a team is struggling and needs help, the Leafs are always there to lend a hand.

Hopefully they start to shake that tag tonight.

Excuse the scepticism, it's just that it's happened so many times that if it happens again, I won't be shocked.

6,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Exactly what I meant. The Flyers alomst stole this one, though in all honesty they're desperate.

Still though, the Leafs weren't able to overpower them, and Andrew Raycroft had to save the team's bacon, because Philly actually ended up dominating.

As for Nik Antropov: I lost my patience with him long ago, but since he's returned he has actually played very well. I still want him traded, as I don't think the team needs his services, but if he can continue to prove other wise, then he'll be able to change my opinion of him.

And about Ponikarovsky: Wow. What a shot. I'm glad he's still on Toronto. He's a good player who can easily make a transition from Line #3 to Line #1 anytime (though he's hasn't gone anything lower than Line #2 this year). He's got enough speed and skill to do it, and he's excellent down low and when carrying the puck. The 20 Goals scored last year don't seem to be a fluke. This guy can put it in the net. :)

As for Raycroft: I can't say that I'm not impressed. He's be very good for the Leafs so far. A 1.50 GAA over his last 4 games.

The Leafs have now won 4 of their last 5 games, and with Kubina returning on Thursday I hope things should only be getting better.

They still have a ton to work on in terms of their defencive zone coverage, but overall they're doing pretty good.
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