Goalie goading season is here

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:41 PM ET


 Plans are underway in Hollywood to produce a remake of the classic King Kong in the next year or so, but Ed Belfour may get a sneak preview he would rather do without.

 If the Ottawa Senators power play starts to fizzle, there's a strong chance 6-foot-9, 260-pound defenceman Zdeno Chara will be told to take up a spot in front of Belfour.

 It's a dilemma Belfour has found himself in before.

 "Usually I like to try to chop him in the side of the knee," Belfour said with a chuckle. "He is so big you can't see by him. Unfortunately you get caught (by the referees) most of the time."

 If Senators coach Jacques Martin wants to get Belfour's goat, he may consider instructing Chara and other smaller members of the team to get to know Belfour really well.

 One of the reasons the Leafs lost in seven games to the Philadelphia Flyers last spring in the opening round was the Flyers' ability to bother Belfour. Even Leafs coach Pat Quinn acknowledged yesterday the ploy worked well, partly because, in his mind, the referees let it go.

 "When it becomes a tactic and they don't step up and do something, I don't know what you can do," Quinn said. "We had big problems with that last year and it certainly frustrated our goaltender. It's probably to be expected again and we're going to have to find a way to be better with it."

 Of course, there aren't many better at getting in a goaltender's face than one of Quinn's own players, Gary Roberts. But it might make Quinn happy to know that in the officials' annual pre-playoff meeting that was scheduled for yesterday, the issue of protecting goaltenders was to be discussed.

 Belfour went into hibernation after holding a scrum with reporters yesterday, with members of the Leafs public relations staff announcing the 38-year-old would not be available again until after Game 1 tomorrow night.

 "I think he is probably the most determined goalie I have ever played with," said Joe Nieuwendyk, who won the Stanley Cup with Belfour and the Dallas Stars in 1999.

 "He likes being the guy and he wants to be in big situations and come through. He takes his position seriously, analyzes everything about goaltending and comes to the rink every day with a good focus."

 And as for the traffic Belfour may have to endure?

 "I think it is an onus on all of us (to help Belfour)," Mats Sundin said. "There is going to be more of that in the playoffs, but that's the way it is."


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