Raycroft proves points

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Though he says there is unfinished business in April, Maple Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft believes he's proven a few points already.

"It has been a nice year," Raycroft said yesterday at the Air Canada Centre. "It's been fun for me to play in all these games and perform well and prove to myself more than anyone that I can play 70 games in this league, get some wins and do it effectively. Hopefully, we have about 25 games left."

Raycroft will play in his 66th game tonight, about the minimum coach Paul Maurice thinks he can get to in 2007-08.

"I think he would've come into this season not knowing how many he'd play," Maurice said. "There was a lot of hope there. I thought we got average goaltending in December and the question was, can this guy carry a full load at some point? So we just decided to answer that question this year. He's weathered it well.

"When he comes back next year, he'll be expected to be more mentally prepared, more physically prepared and (realize) 65 is probably the bottom end of what he'll play. You have to be ready for that and I think those great goalies here before him (Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour) knew that."

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAMI

Maurice brushed off any speculation that Mats Sundin's scoring slump -- just two goals in the past 16 games -- is a major concern. Sundin continues to rack up assists.

"When we went to the Cup final (with Carolina in 2002), Sami Kapanen had (one goal) and all the talk was about he had to start scoring," Maurice recalled. "Well, no he didn't. We just had to keep winning. Unfortunately, Sami started scoring, but his linemates didn't and we lost."

UNHAPPY ENDINGS

The Leafs were vexed on the out-of-town board again on Sunday when the Rangers beat the Islanders in a shootout, distributing three points to both playoff rivals.

"(Shootouts) are annoying until you're on the losing end when you appreciate it more," Raycroft said. "We've got enough one-point games that I don't think we can complain too much. But you'd rather see 2-1 games end in regulation."


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