February 7, 2010
What a difference a win makes for Leafs
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
Too many times the past few seasons, the sliding doors of the Maple Leafs room have opened post-game to reveal a near ghost town that results with losing about two of every three games.
Not this week.
When the media gained entry Saturday, after a 5-0 crowd pleaser over Ottawa, they were met by a rocking house of blues, grooving to Run This Town by Rihanna and Jay-Z. Raptors centre Patrick O’Bryant ambled out in a Dion Phaneuf sweater after glad-handing the Leafs, who were also getting congrats from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president and CEO Richard Petty.
When Jean-Sebastien Giguere wrapped up his Hockey Night In Canada interview, a huge ovation from mates floated into the hallway. He was quickly asked to pose with the pucks from his back-to-back shutouts.
Too late to salvage this season, but no one wanted to bring up the standings.
“These past two or three games have been a new beginning for the Leafs,” declared Giguere, whose first initials one TV wag opined must surely stand for Just Shutouts. “Aside from the last few minutes (of a Friday collapse in New Jersey he watched from the bench), we’ve played well and our practices are good.”
Given little to reward their faith this season, the fans also saw Phil Kessel score his fourth and fifth goals in four games, Luke Schenn bury two and play one of his most solid defensive games and Lee Stempniak have a Dave Keon-style penalty killing shift.
That’s entertainment decided the crowd, which let loose during a third-period TV timeout. They engaged in an extended wave that the awe-struck young players tracked from the bench, with a Go Leafs Go chant in between, in stark contrast to the abuse they’ve been subject to.
“That was fun,” Giguere said. “From what I hear, it’s not been like this too often here this year.”
Coach Ron Wilson gave much of the credit to his new stopper, who will surely get a chance for three straight shutouts on Monday when the San Jose Sharks are in town.