Silent Bob makes some noise

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

 Because robert Esche no longer speaks to reporters until after games, some members of the Philadelphia media have slapped him with the nickname "Silent Bob."

 And you can partially blame the Maple Leafs' Brian Leetch for that.

  When Esche fanned on a long-distance Leetch shot during a 3-2 Toronto victory back on March 18, the floodgates of criticism opened.

 During the next several weeks, Esche was beaten by a flurry of weak goals, causing the relentless Philly press to turn up the heat on the young goaltender.

 Esche has rediscovered his game since the beginning of the playoffs, including a 22-save performance in the Flyers 3-1 victory over the Leafs Thursday night.

 Nevertheless, there are those around Philadelphia who expect Esche to falter sooner or later. Tough town.

 "He has done a great job of working on his concentration," Flyers goaltending coach Reggie Lemelin said yesterday. "He still talks to the media ... I think he just wants to keep his concentration."

 While Esche made some key saves in Game 1, the Maple Leafs did not direct nearly enough rubber his way. If Pat Quinn's team wants to dent this guy's confidence, they will need to administer far more pressure on Flyers goalie.

 Then there is the traffic issue. While the Flyers big bodies managed to get Ed Belfour off his game, Gary Roberts and his teammates plan on reciprocating those tactics on Esche's doorstep.

 "All teams want to do that," Esche said after Game 1.

 "Toronto is no different than New Jersey."

 Should the Leafs be unable to direct more pucks Esche's way, they could very well end up like the Devils -- out of the playoffs.

 Silent Bob wouldn't have it any other way.


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