A couple of weekends ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the laughing stock of the National Hockey League after a 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that vaulted emergency goalie David Ayres into the spotlight.
Ayres, a 42-year-old building operations manager who works for the Maple Leafs, was pressed into action on February 22 when Carolina’s James Reimer and Petr Mrazek both got hurt.
The Zamboni driver did not stop the first two shots on goal but then settled down and stopped Toronto’s last eight shots against him and was named the game’s first star.
Since then, Ayres has appeared on numerous high-profile TV shows across North America and his stick was included in a display at the Hockey Hall of Fame to commemorate his achievement of becoming the first emergency goalie to win an NHL game.
However, the Leafs have since rebounded from what can be considered the franchise’s most embarrassing moment.
Entering their game Tuesday night in San Jose and sitting five points ahead of Florida for third place in the Atlantic Division, Toronto is riding a three-game winning streak after impressive victories over the Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning.
We can only surmise that losing the way they did against Ayres and the ‘Canes has motivated the Maple Leafs to play some of their best hockey of the season and the timing couldn’t be better as they face off against the three worst teams in the Western Conference (San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim).
Coupled with the news that injured defencemen Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci are expected to return to the lineup next week, Toronto appears to be on the verge of cementing their playoff positioning and erasing all the negative feelings that the loss against Ayres and the Hurricanes had created.