Shootout crapshoot

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

BOSTON -- Given that his own team hasn't exactly mastered the art of the shootout, Claude Julien wasn't about to begin dispensing advice yesterday.

But Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson's decision to pull Vesa Toskala for Curtis Joseph in Tuesday's shootout loss to Anaheim certainly caught the attention of the Bruins coach.

"Everybody has their philosophy, who am I to say if it is good or not," Julien said following Bruins practice in advance of tonight's game against the Leafs at the TD Banknorth Garden. "If it works, it's a great strategy. If it doesn't, it's easy to second-guess.

"I know where you are going with that because Toronto did it," Julien said to a visiting reporter. "People are going to argue (about the issue). The bottom line is if it works and you win, so what? I don't think there's a perfect strategy."

Wilson wasn't the first coach to try the unorthodox move he vowed was worth a shot because of Joseph's superior record in shootouts. But those who have tried the tactic now are 0-8.

WHY NOT?

"Why shouldn't I be trying to do something?" Wilson said yesterday in Toronto. "We're not successful the other way. You get second-guessed, but if you go with conventional wisdom, which is not the smartest thing to do, I'd keep going with the same guy and the same guy has a bad or poor record in shootouts."

If the Leafs force a shootout tonight, it will be a battle of the two worst teams in the league in that department.

The Bruins have lost via the shootout twice this week alone -- Tuesday in Buffalo and Monday against Pittsburgh -- and match the Leafs at 0-3.

"We have enough skill here, it's a matter of finding ways to score goals," Julien said. "You have to put a lot of responsibility on the player to do that, but at the same time, it's not an easy situation to be in."

The shootout losses have been particularly damaging to the Bruins in that they have all come against Eastern rivals -- the Sabres, Penguins and Canadiens. In the four seasons the tiebreaker has been used, the Bruins have a mediocre record of 17-23.

As for the Leafs, Wilson said he wouldn't hesitate going to Joseph again in the future.

"I don't know if he took me seriously," Wilson said. "But I think the next time around he'll know I may go to the bullpen."


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