In the long run, Telly may hold key

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Mikael Tellqvist could play an important role in any sort of Maple Leafs playoff run -- and not play a single minute in the post-season.

Unlike most backup goalies in Pat Quinn's tenure in Toronto, the coach sees a true future for Tellqvist. As a result, it's possible the young Swede could get more playing time this season. And if he does, Belfour would be better-rested for the playoffs.

"The other guys, you might not even think about getting them in five times a year," Quinn said. "But with Telly, I would like to make sure his development does continue. I feel strongly about his ability and he has shown a mental toughness."

A STRETCH

At the beginning of the season, many prognosticators figured even a playoff berth -- forget a long Cup run -- would be a stretch for the Leafs. And though they are better off than some were predicting, so too are the rival Ottawa Senators.

"The Leafs have excellent goaltending, experience, size and depth, and I think they have a chance," said one NHL pro scout. "But they are in a tough division, and Ottawa is unquestionably the best team I have seen this year."

One of the strengths of the Sens is the ability to put away teams when they get a lead. Not so the Maple Leafs, either this season or in previous playoff games.

"It's hard to say why that is," another NHL scout said. "Burying teams has not been a forte under Quinn."


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