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Reimer: a bit of Dryden and Fuhr; the traded McCabe had some fine moments with the Maple Leafs

Here's the thing:  Reimer gave up five goals, and it wasn't his best night, yet he made certain the Leafs got at least the one point Saturday night by extending the game to overtime.  He made some outstanding saves once the game went to 5-5.

The first thing that came to mind is that that was precisely the kind of thing some old-time greats like Ken Dryden and Grant Fuhr used to do in their hey-day.  Now, I'm not suggesting Reimer is in their class, of course.  But both Dryden and Fuhr, while often brilliant, would sometimes have these games where they gave up four, five, six goals.  But all of a sudden, it's like they could draw on some inner resolve and determine, "this is it...I'm not giving up anymore".  That happened with Dryden a number of times with the Habs through the years, and perhaps most memorably in Game 8 of the famous 1972 Summit Series.  Russia led 5-3 after two periods in the decisive game 8, and Dryden had looked ordinary.  But he gave up nothing in the third as Canada rebounded to score three times and win 6-5.

So it's a good sign that, even on an apparent "off" night, Reimer can summon the resolve to hang in and get the team a valuable point.


Odd night, eh?  But awfully fun to watch.  A bit like the hockey I used to play on the river when I was a kid, just much, much faster and at a way higher skill level.  Mistakes and skill all over the ice.

Lupul scores twice but ends the night a minus 2.  Phaneuf scores on the power play, set up by Brent.  (Who predicted Brent would be on the point on the power play back in September?)  Gunnarsson, who couldn't get out of the press box a few weeks ago, logged 25 minutes.  Guys were blocking shots to preserve the point late in the game.

Anyone reading this who is, say, younger than 25 should look up the phrase "firewagon hockey".  That used to be the way the great old Montreal teams often played in the 1950s' and '60s.  Saturday night's game was a flashback to that era, with some of the '80s thrown in as well.  Coaches won't like it but fans can't get enough.


Bryan McCabe gets his chance now with a team headed, it seems, for a certain playoff berth and I’m among those who is pleased for him.

While he was something of a lightning rod for criticism in his years here, I liked him as a Leaf.  The team didn’t, as we all well know, win the Cup during his time in Toronto but he often distinguished himself as a guy who cared and played hard in the blue and white colors.

He came to the Leafs at the age of 25 in what turned out to be one of the best trades in the modern Leaf era.  Pat Quinn was coach and GM when he acquired Bryan for veteran defenseman Alexander Karpotsev and a fourth-round draft choice.  At the time, few thought much of the deal.  McCabe had been a second-round draft choice of the Islanders, but three teams had already given up on him by the team Quinn got ahold of him—the Isles, Vancouver and Chicago.  I don’t think anyone believed McCabe would be a star in Toronto—just another guy who never reached his “potential”.

But he played the best hockey of his life under Quinn with the Leafs.  He wasn’t a perfect defenseman—who is—but he could make plays and shoot the puck.  And hey, he logged huge minutes in some of those hotly-contested playoff series back in the early 2000s— 30+ minutes some nights.  (In fact, when the Leafs went to the semi-finals in 2002, he played 20 playoff games and averaged just under 30 minutes per game.  That’s the kind of ice team that only elite defensemen can deliver.)

He was good enough to make the end-of-season (when it matters) NHL second All-Star team in 2003-’04, and was named to the 2006 Canadian Olympic team in Italy.

35 now and with a more limited game, perhaps, (though he has been a “plus” player so far this season).  It’ll be different playing under Tortorella, but I wish him well in New York, as I do Kaberle with the Bruins. (Click on his name to read why some of us will miss Tomas.)

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