Raycroft out, Aubin in

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

At some point during their post-practice tete-a-tete yesterday, Paul Maurice must have slipped a pillow under Andrew Raycroft to cushion the fall.

The Maple Leafs' $4-million US goaltender was being told to take a seat tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first time this year a healthy Raycroft will have been on the bench for all or part of consecutive games.

Miffed at not getting the chance to redeem himself for a four-goals-in-40-minutes night in Detroit on Saturday, Raycroft remained diplomatic about making way for Jean-Sebastien Aubin tonight and possibly in the future until the Leafs escape a seven-game losing streak.

"I wouldn't be surprised," Raycroft said of more Aubin sightings. "There are two goalies here. Whatever Mo says. If he says, 'You're not playing for the next 35 games', I'm more than happy to do what he says."

But the coach objected to hearing the media use the R-word, as in rotation.

"Fellows, we're going to play one at a time," Maurice said, speaking slowly for effect. "J.S. will play tomorrow. I liked most of his game in Boston (Thursday's steady game for the first 21/2 periods). Andrew saw a lot of fantastically good chances in Detroit and stopped most of them, but he didn't have a lot of help on (five) power-play goals.

"I also don't want this situation to weigh on just one of them. I know they're both good enough to carry it and find a way to get out of this as a team -- not just one guy facing the results of the five guys (struggling) in front of him."

The most recent time Aubin was given back-to-back games when the starter was healthy was last year when he usurped the now-departed Mikael Tellqvist. Raycroft's early season success has faded in this slump in which Toronto has been outscored 29-9.

"When things aren't going right, you don't get the breaks," Raycroft said. "So it looks like things are going horribly wrong now. But I don't think that's the case.

"This is part of the learning curve here. We're learning we have to stay sharp consistently, week in, week out, not let complacency creep in."

After letting the Leafs blow off some steam on Sunday with three-on-three scrimmage games, Maurice went back to up-tempo breakout, coverage and special teams work, ending with a Raycroft huddle and the four centres meeting with assistant Keith Acton about getting dominated on draws in Detroit.

Maurice, who told players and media earlier this year that he had "another gear" he was saving for a time when effort was lagging, said he has not reached that stage -- yet.

"The end of your rope comes when there's no hope," he said. "(The Leafs) have seen a little bit of what can happen. There are things that you can get a little grumpier about. It's new for some, especially the younger guys, but I'm not at the end of my rope."


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