RALEIGH, N.C.–The Toronto Maple Leafs, who are on the razor’s edge of making the playoffs, are going to need Razor’s edge just to qualify for the post-season.
That’s because Maple Leaf coach Paul Maurice says it’s going to be all Andrew Raycroft, all the time.
“I’m going to run Razor as hard as I possibly can,” Maurice said before last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. “I think his game is coming. He’s feeling confident about himself. He won us a game in Tampa. He was solid the other night.”
Maurice said his team, which went into last night’s action in 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, doesn’t have the luxury like some of the top teams in the league of resting the No. 1 goalie to give the backup some work.
“We’re not in a situation where we’re looking two weeks down the road and picking a spot for our backup goaltender to play,” said Maurice. “If he (Raycroft) has to play every game for the rest of the year, he might.”
That’s okay by Raycroft.
“We got a lot of big games coming up and they’re fun to play,” said the goalie.
Raycroft got off to a great start to the season, with a 9-4-2 won-lost-OT record and a goals-against average of 2.67. He was looking more like the goalie who won the rookie-of-the-year award for the 2003-04 season with Boston. A groin injury struck on Nov. 9, and he missed a week.
He struggled since he returned, looking more like the goalie that lost his job in Boston last year to a career minor leaguer. He had a goals against average of 2.67 and a 9-11-2 record as the Leafs plummeted down the Eastern Conference standings.
Things got so bad for Raycroft that fans at the Air Canada Centre began booing him, bottoming out with a 6-1 loss on Jan. 13 at home to Vancouver.
But Maurice had faith in the goalie. And Raycroft has repaid him, stealing the show on Jan. 16 in Tampa. Since then Raycroft is 3-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average.
“My body feels as good has it has since September,” says Raycroft. “There’s nothing nagging, no groin, none of that stuff is lingering any more.
“I really I feel like I’m able to play every night if they need me.”
Raycroft says he doesn’t worry about goals-against statistics.
“Wins, that’s the main thing,” says Raycroft. “The guys that have less than a two goals-against average, their teams aren’t built for the 8-2 wins and the 8-2 losses.
“That’s the kind of team that we are, we are going for it all the time.”