Thank you, J-S, but take a seat

Andrew Raycroft. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

Andrew Raycroft. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Despite surviving a close shave in Montreal, Paul Maurice is going back to his old Razor.

The head coach of the Maple Leafs nipped any potential goaltending controversy in the bud yesterday when he announced that Andrew Raycroft would start against the Atlanta Thrashers at home tonight.

That decision was with all due respect to Jean-Sebastien Aubin's work in a badly needed 5-4 shootout win over the Canadiens on Saturday night that broke the Leafs' three-game losing streak.

As soon as Aubin made the game-winning save on Habs' Alexander Perezhogin, TV cameras zeroed in on Raycroft, perhaps looking for a facial expression that would betray concern about his starting job.

But Raycroft appeared just as elated as the rest of the Leafs' bench, perhaps because he already had been told he would be back on the horse tonight.

"This isn't a situation where you've been no good and we're looking to get rid of you ... those were the words from his (Maurice's) mouth," Raycroft said yesterday. "It was more a case of me playing a lot (10 of the first 11 games and five in nine days). With the game in Montreal (solid Aubin country), it made sense to make a switch."

Raycroft had been in the line of fire when Toronto's defensive game suffered a huge letdown in two spankings at the hands of the Ottawa Senators last week. It wasn't his shining moment in a young season when he has yet to put his stamp on the No.1 role, but the whole team admittedly was out of whack.

Maurice gave himself a tiny window to change his mind tonight due to any unforseen circumstances, but strongly hinted at splitting up the back-to-back games in Tampa Bay and Florida later this week between his two netminders.

Aubin was being diplomatic about taking a seat again tonight, still on a high from stopping six of seven shots in the shootout.

"My job is to be ready any time that I'm needed," said Aubin, who lost a shootout to the New Jersey Devils in his only other start this year.

"I've had a few bad breaks in my first two games (a Habs goal off of the backboard when everything was going the Leafs' way was particularly dismaying for him), but I'd rather have those happen to me early in the year than at the end when games really count."

But if part of Saturday's decision by Maurice was to allow Raycroft to relax, it wasn't successful. Raycroft wound up getting a bad case of butterflies watching the third period, overtime and the shootout.

"I was sitting there watching us up 4-2 in the third period with six minutes to go and suddenly it's: 'Here we go again'," Raycroft said.

"But we were able to get it done."

Aubin said the extra breakaway work he gets at the end of those practices when Raycroft leaves early might have paid off on Saturday.

"You learn to work on your weaknesses," Aubin said with a laugh." I noticed I was standing too deep in my net, not coming out (to challenge shooters)."


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