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Bear Essentials On the Road: Toronto

Tuesday, 11.20.2007 / 7:29 PM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop  -
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Bear Essentials On the Road: Toronto
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.

Afternoon update
The news is out and I am on my way to see Tuukka Rask play his first NHL game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto -- the home of the Maple Leafs.

Judging by his mood yesterday after a loss in Providence (bad), I think the I-95 shuffle was getting a little nerve-wracking for the young man.

It's all very understandable since he has been, at various times, extraordinarily close to his wildest dreams, and then had to sit, watch and even be sent south for some more minor league action.

I am sure that he knows that he will be in Providence again in near future, but I think newest Bruins goalie is very ready for today.

For those of you who have not met Tuukka, think of him as your good friend's very talented little bro. He is exceedingly personable and would generally fit in on any college campus.

He's always smiling too, and speaks three languages.

That makes me wonder: How do you say calm, cool and collected in Finnish?

Rask plays a very efficient butterfly style, similar to his countryman Hannu Toivonen (late of the B's, now with St. Lou), however Rask seems to sit differently (higher) in his butterfly when down -- a slight variation I noticed between the two keepers over the summer.

By the way, my flight to Cincinnati, OH is packed and I am writing on my BlackBerry.

3:07 p.m.
I am not a good flyer and here's hoping that the game is worth this flight to Ohio, the transfer to another plane and then a half hour cab ride to downtown Toronto. Thus far the flight has been smooth, but the guys in my row are out COLD.

I am very much looking forward to being on Bear Force One, later.

3:19 p.m.
I am a little worried that my flight to T.O. is only 15 minutes, or so, after our late arrival in Cinci.

4:26 p.m.
Made it to my connecting flight with four minutes to spare. Threw the best check of my career on this guy who was blocking my way to the exit and the shuttle to the necessary terminal. It was just a room making check, as he didn't have the puck, and I didn't have to open-ice-kaboom him -- he'll live.

Right now I am on the smallest airplane I have ever been a passenger on. Not a fan. The engines sound like a blender for goodness sake. Oh well, up, up and away!

4:46 p.m.
I know this kid (Tuukka) is worth it, but oh man. The AC on the flight is not working well and it is PACKED to the wings.

5:12 p.m.
The captain just got on to say that we will make the terminal around 6 p.m. That is so cutting it close on the 7 p.m. game. Oh lords of traffic, please look over me!

5:27 p.m.
LAND! It's been a while since we could see through the clouds to the ground. Ugh.

Game Time
Ok, so I am late. I am sorry. I didn't know I was going to be on this trip.

Thankfully, Fluto Shinzawa from The Boston Globe has the lines and the game time stuff...




* Vesa Toskala (6-6-2, 3.27 GAA, .895 save percentage), Rask's teammate in 2004-05 with Ilves Tampere, will start in goal for the Leafs."

Thanks Fluto. I have plenty more coming folks, tonight and tomorrow. So hang on.

7:36 p.m.
Tuukka's first goal against is from Bryan McCabe and his first save is Darcy Tucker.

8:05 p.m.
What a different feel here in the ACC. Gorgeous building, but it's SO quiet. It's almost as if the fans are in class or something.

8:44 p.m.
By the way, they got VERY loud when the Leafs scored...

9:13 p.m.
I am at the very bottom of the Air Canada Centre watching the end of the game on a very nice television in the media work room. Thank God for P.J. Axelsson. That's all I have to say.

9:17 p.m.
Milan Lucic is a lot of fun to watch. Just wanted to add that.

9:23 p.m.




1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


P. Bergeron 81 23 32 2 55
L. Eriksson 81 22 25 1 47
M. Lucic 81 18 26 13 44
C. Soderberg 82 13 31 10 44
B. Marchand 77 24 18 5 42
D. Hamilton 72 10 32 -3 42
R. Smith 81 13 27 7 40
T. Krug 78 12 27 13 39
D. Krejci 47 7 24 7 31
C. Kelly 80 7 21 6 28
T. Rask 34 21 13 .922 2.30
N. Svedberg 7 5 1 .918 2.33
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