Raycroft Shines In Leafs Loss

Bill McCormickContributor IApril 2, 2008

The headline was originally meant to read " Leafs Lose With Raycroft" but, that seemed entirely unfair.

Andrew Raycroft hit the ice to defend the Toronto goal and was greeted with a chorus of boo's from the Leaf's faithful. Three regulation periods, one overtime period, a six-round shoot-out ,and 41 shots later the critics were silenced. Raycroft had been the best player on the ice—bar none.

The Leafs lost 4-3 having squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads.

Leaf's coach, Paul Maurice, has described the remaining matches as "glorified exhibition games". How much motivation does that give the players? I wonder if his attitude would be different if the team was facing relegation.

In hockey-mad Toronto there is no down-side to losing. The arena will be full of fans whether we are looking to win the cup or anticipating another early golf season. Isn't it time the fans' passion and loyalty were rewarded?

Lame-duck GM Cliff Fletcher has promised changes for next year. He envisions a youth-based team that may or may not include Mats Sundin...the choice is Sundin's apparently. I'm sure I speak for Leafs' fans everywhere when I say " thanks for the clarity Cliff". I pity the new GM who has to work with another's vision.

Fletcher feels the Leafs are very close to being a contender."When you look at the league and how closely balanced the teams are, one or two players can make a lot of difference,"  Fletcher stated. "We have a pretty darn good goaltender and we have three or four pretty good young players that are going to make sure this team is reasonably competitive".

Does anyone else out there have a sense of deja vue?