For now, he’s just happy Toronto remains in the thick of the playoff race. “The No. 1 priority is to get in the playoffs and win two more (games),” said Raycroft, who stopped 23 Flyers shots in Toronto’s 3-2 overtime win over Philadelphia, giving him 37 wins in his first season with the Leafs. The victory tied the mark set by Ed Belfour in 2002-03.
More importantly, it allowed Toronto to keep pace with Montreal and stay one point behind the Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Though Raycroft was more interested in focusing on the two regular-season games the Leafs have left – including their looming showdown against the Habs Saturday at Air Canada Centre – his teammates were singing the praises of the Belleville, Ont., netminder.
“He’s been tremendous for us,” Leafs captain Mats Sundin said of Raycroft, whose record stands at 37-24-9. “I have never seen a goaltender play so many back-to-back games. Now he’s played four games in six nights. He’s been a workhorse for us.”
Acquired from the Boston Bruins by Leafs GM John Ferguson at the 2006 NHL entry draft in Vancouver, Raycroft frequently has been the target of Toronto fans’ wrath. But rather than worrying about whether he is booed or cheered, the 27-year-old is happy to have a single, short-term goal in mind.
“It’s nice to be able to worry about just winning to get into the playoffs rather than all that other stuff,” Raycroft said, “because it really doesn’t matter.”
Next up for the Leafs is a road game Thursday against the New York Islanders. Raycroft has a win, two shootout losses and a 2.00 goals against average against the Isles this season. However, he places absolutely no stock in what transpired earlier in the schedule.
“We lost two shootouts to them,” he said of the Islanders. “They have a good lineupathey’re still playing hard. They’ve gone through a lot as well, and it’s not going to be a layup (for us) by any means.”