Bruins' rookie goalie strong to the Finnish

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

BOSTON -- Years from now, Hannu Toivonen might be battling Finnish countryman Tuukka Rask when the Bruins and Maple Leafs tangle.

Last night, however, Toivonen gave Swede Mikael Tellqvist and the Leafs all they could handle in the Boston goal.

Except for a late Eric Lindros power-play goal, Toivonen was golden in a big 2-1 win, Boston's first within the Northeast Division this year.

He stopped six rockets from Bryan McCabe, the National Hockey League's highest scoring defenceman, among 36 saves on the night.

"Of course you go through the opponent's lineup before the game, but saying that, you don't want to get too (wrapped up) in those details," the shaggy blonde puck stopper said.

He turned aside 20 shots in the second period alone, when fatigue started to show on a Boston team that played in Carolina the night before and lost No. 1 Andrew Raycroft with a hamstring pull.

"Those kind of periods don't happen too often, but sometimes you have to stand up for your team and help them win it," he said.

Toivonen was Boston's first pick, 29th overall, in the 2002 draft. This past June, the Leafs took Rask 21st overall. The pair share the same agent, Chicago-based Bill Zito.

GOOD ORGANIZATION

"We have a good set-up with Bill here and two guys who work for him in Finland," Toivonen said. "Tuukka is going to do all right. He's 18 now and they're going to give him a lot of playing time with the national junior team. The Leafs are a good organization and in a year or two, he'll be ready to join them."

Toivonen's white catcher's mitt was lethal to Toronto's hopes last night. He was worried the new equipment regulations would hinder his progress in that department, but they proved unfounded.

"It's hard when all your life you're used to a big pocket and all of a sudden, it's half the size," Toivonen said. "With the new regulations, you obviously have to concentrate on getting those pucks into your pocket. But the glove is now smaller and lighter and it means you can make some saves that you never could before. I try to freeze a lot of pucks on to my body."

He has come a long way from the shy kid who attended training camp in 2003.

"I'm comfortable after three years here," he said of his fourth game. "I know all the staff here and I can concentrate on hockey. All I had to do was work on my form.

"It was a good effort from all the guys. They played well in front of me and let me see the puck."


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