Jean-Sebastien Aubin's heroics in the past nine games have not only kept the Maple Leafs in the playoff hunt and earned him a contract for next season but also have given him a new appreciation among his teammates.
"He is one of those goaltenders that even when he does bend a little bit, he does not seem to break," Darcy Tucker said. "It seems like he gives us a chance to get the two points on the nights he plays."
With the seven victories along with two losses in (shootouts) he has registered, Aubin is closing in on being .500 for his NHL career. From the 1998-99 season to 2003-04, Aubin appeared in 168 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and compiled a 63-72-11 won-lost-tied record.
Against the New York Islanders on Thursday night, Aubin made some outstanding saves, including two in the opening minute. He came across the crease to thwart Miro Satan and then, while prone on his stomach, lifted his left leg to get a skate on a Shawn Bates shot.
"That was my scorpion save," Aubin said. "Actually, it was Alex Steen who gave it that name. I did that once in practice, and he came up with that."
Here's something to ponder if the Leafs manage to get into the playoffs: Since Aubin's junior career started with Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1994-95, he has played in only 19 playoff games, and just one in the NHL.
TV STAYS OFF
The Leafs were given yesterday off by coach Pat Quinn but Tucker knew what he was not going to be doing last night -- viewing the NHL's only game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes.
"I'm not watching it," Tucker said. "I haven't watched all the way along so why start? It's no use changing things."
Tucker acknowledged that his performance against the Islanders may have been his best on Long Island since the nasty 2002 Eastern Conference quarter-final, when his hit on Michael Peca in Game 5 knocked Peca out of the series.
Tucker was booed Thursday every time he touched the puck.
"It was one of my better games since that incident in this building, and it is kind of a weight off the shoulders," Tucker said.