Stink in a different rink

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

BOSTON -- During the glory days of the crumbling, rat-infested Boston Garden, the leather-lunged yahoos in the upper deck fondly were known in these parts as The Gallery Gods.

Less than a minute into last night's Bruins-Maple Leafs tilt at the faceless TD Banknorth Garden, Andrew Raycroft must have figured the hockey's version of the Bleacher Creatures had re-emerged.

With his team already down 1-0 on a Marc Savard goal at the 19 second mark, the hecklers gleefully started mocking Raycroft, the former Bruins goaltender.

"Hey Raycroft, you stink!" yelled one fan, a quip that drew applause from many of the 16,373 in attendance.

Normally such anti-Raycroft sentiments are reserved for the Air Canada Centre, where he and Bryan McCabe are the official whipping boys of Leafs Nation.

Then again, last night's 5-2 loss to the Bruins resembled many of Toronto's home ice defeats this season.

Inconsistent goaltending and sloppy defensive play highlighted the Leafs' third consecutive loss, a streak that could run to four with the mighty Ottawa Senators coming to town tomorrow. So much for seeking relief on the road, a claim the Leafs had been making of late.

Last night's game marked the quarter pole of the season for the 7-8-5 Leafs, a period in which their back-end play once again was not good enough. Don't be surprised if offensively-gifted defenceman Anton Stralman gets the call in the coming days after the Leafs took turns either running around or standing around in their own end, each one a recipe for disaster.

"We've got to move the puck better out of our own end or Stralman's got to come in and move the puck for us," disappointed coach Paul Maurice said. "We just gave up some goals we can't give up."

While Staffan Kronwall has not been too bad since being called up earlier in the week to replace the injured Pavel Kubina, Andy Wozniewski continues to struggle. After seeing less than 10 minutes of ice time last night, he might be the odd man out.

In the circus-like atmosphere that has been the Maple Leafs the past few days, Maurice and his team were relieved to be on the road.

They would not have to answer questions about Jiri Tlusty and those incriminating photos that have been dominating the headlines and the Internet.

They would not have to discuss the pre-game yap-fest between Darcy Tucker, Jason Blake and the New York Rangers' Sean Avery last Saturday.

Those two topics transformed the Leafs dressing room into a media zoo. Given the poor beginning the Leafs got off to last night by allowing Savard's goal, it seemed their minds still were elsewhere.

"We had an awful start," defenceman Tomas Kaberle said. "We weren't prepared in the first minute and we lost it right there."

Still, the Leafs were down just 3-2 entering the third. But a stoppable Peter Schaefer goal that squeezed through Raycroft at 2:11 of the final period was the final dagger.

"It's a goal that shouldn't go in," said Raycroft, who likely will give way to Vesa Toskala tonight.

One week ago the Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 and everything seemed right in the world. Seven days later they are facing the reality of a potential four-game winless funk with the high-flying Sens coming in. It has been a bad week on and off the ice.

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

Peter Schaefer's goal at 2:11 of the third was a stoppable shot that squeezed through Andrew Raycroft. That put the Bruins up 4-2, a margin the Leafs could not make up.

RING THE BELL

Mark Bell's first scrap as a Leaf didn't go exactly as planned. While landing a few shots of his own, he absorbed most of the punishment during a first period punch-up with impressive Bruins rookie Milan Lucic.

OOPS

While chasing for a loose puck near the Bruins blue line late in the second period, Boyd Devereaux was flattened by towering Zdeno Chara.Anyone get the license number of that Slovakian truck?

QUOTABLE

"To be honest,I'm getting a bit sick and tired of people pointing the finger at Bryan McCabe. They constantly scrutinize him, and that's wrong. It's not just one guy's fault, it's the whole team."

-- Leafs forward Jason Blake


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