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Toronto-Carolina: Second Win There for the Taking

Louis PisanoAnalyst INovember 6, 2009

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 30:  Mikhail Grabovski #84of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on October 30, 2009 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

By Louis "King of Roncesvalles" Pisano

Toronto will be facing a Carolina team that some predicted to be in the hunt for the playoffs this year and at this point, Carolina is just hoping to get off the slide they’ve been on. The Hurricanes actually are below the Leafs in conference standings yet with the same mere seven points, though the Leafs have a game in hand.

As we have seen, the problems continue to mount for this Carolina team that beat the Bruins in seven games before falling four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins in last year’s playoffs.

Toronto showed that they are battling tooth and nail for points and have gotten them in five straight games, though they lost three in OT and one in a shootout.

With Phil Kessel in the lineup and the goaltending tandem of Gustavsson and Toskala healthy, the Leafs should be primed to win a few games and none better than tonight, against this struggling Carolina team.

Without their leader Eric Staal and veteran Ray Whitney, this team seems lost. To add to that, the great goaltending they have relied on from Cam Ward has dissipated; his save percentage is below .900 and in 13 games he has a record of 2-8-3, giving up 38 goals, almost three a game. Not looking good for his hopes of a return to Team Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

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Toronto should try and get some bodies in front of Ward, which they didn’t do last game at home against Tampa and which probably cost them the game.

Let any of these NHL goalies see the puck and they will beat you almost every time, get bodies in front of them and frustrate them and you have a much better chance of succeeding, something the Leafs have not been doing and I am sure Ron Wilson continues to preach this to the team.

Secondary scoring has to come from guys like Grabovski, who had a few looks at the net last game and has to pull the trigger, as do the other guys. Many times in the last game against Tampa, a Toronto player had the puck in the slot and chose to pass it off to the side for a poor angle shot.

As we know, this isn’t the most talented team up front, but they do have some guys that have shown sparks of offensive talent.

Last year, it wasn’t their offensive ability that was the problem; It was the backend, which Burke addressed with the acquisitions of Beauchemin and Komisarek, along with the Monster, who has been great.

Leafs Nation should be happy after this game, and with the two points they should get tonight they will gain some confidence, which they will need when playing the injured yet still competent Red Wings team tomorrow night at the ACC.

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