Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One disc from disaster

His Maple Leaf team mates might be missing Ed Belfour, but they certainly aren't giving him any reason to rush back to work. The injury to Belfour remains a mystery illness, little said about what it is or how serious it may be. In keeping with the John Le Carre script in Leafland, there still is no word on when he'll be back. The Leafs just say he'll return when he's ready and at 100%.

He must have mixed emotions on the idea though, Belfour who has missed six games now with that bad back, has watched the Maple Leaf players abandon his replacement Trevor Kidd. The Leaf backup, has had a horrid stretch in the nets, hearing the jeers of the Air Canada faithful in the last few outings. While he's been shaky in most of his games, he hasn't been the entire reason for the poor goals against. It has however, been left to Kidd to answer for 28 goals against in six games, even though he hasn't been in the net for all of them.

The entire team has forgotten the idea of backchecking, far too many opposition teams have been able to take the Leaf blue line at will, taking shot after shot at Kidd or Tellqvist. As a team they've completely forgotten their game plan, leaving Kidd to face the wrath of the fans.

Pat Quinn has been quick to take some of the heat from Kidd, explaining that it's a team game and his team has not been there when needed. However, Quinn must be worried about the weaknesses being exploited by opposing teams. The Leafs as a team will feel much more comfortable when Belfour is back between the pipes, but the trouble is deeper than a wonky back from the goaltender.

Finding a way to shut down Belfour's game, will go a long way to bringing down the Maple Leafs in the playoffs. If Belfour's back gets worse as the season goes along, the playoffs will only be a short term job for the Leafs.

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