Despite a stronger start for the Maple Leafs against the Vancouver Canucks – building a 7-1 lead at one point on the shot clock – things didnt look too good until the final 20 minutes. Struggling to generate much offence in the second half of the first period and into the middle frame, the Leafs found their legs in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to split their season series with the Canucks at a win apiece with a 3-1 victory. “We were pleading, begging, crying, all those things to change the way we were playing and it just seemed that we didnt have our sharpness in terms of making tape-to-tape passes,” said Carlyle. “Then we tried to make plays as individuals in the second period and they just sat back with their 1-4 (formation) and trapped.” But with a chance to head into the Olympic break on a high and post an impressive 11-2-1 record in their last fourteen games, Carlyle asked his team during the second intermission to find twenty inspired minutes. “The idea is that it was a one-goal hockey game, here we have an opportunity to pull a game out of the fire by scoring one goal to give ourselves a chance,” explained Carlyle. “We had a break coming. Wouldnt it be nice for everybody to feel a lot better about ourselves with a win here versus a loss?” Tied with Montreal at 70 points in the Atlantic, the Leafs run has positioned them well for the final 22 games of the regular season, sitting seven points up on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Wild Card spot. “We talked about wanting to go into the break I think probably six games ago,” said Dion Phaneuf. “Our focus really focused in on playing well going into the break. We feel weve done that, we got some big wins and we wanted to get as many points as we possibly could going into the break and we did that.” Five Points 1) Burrows Pokes The Bear Alex Burrows drew the ire of Phil Kessel late in the second period, cross checking him near the chin before giving him a glove on punch. Kessel responded with a few shots of his own and was noticeably agitated as he left the ice. But the Leaf sniper responded in the third period with what held up as the game-winning goal along with an assist on James Van Riemsdyks insurance marker. “I dont know, its just a hockey game,” said Kessel, after the game. “I wasnt too happy, but its part of the game." It wasnt the first time, though, this season that Burrows had gone after Kessel. In the previous meeting on Nov. 2, the two players fought in what was only Kessels second career NHL fight. On Saturday, both players received just two minutes for roughing with an extra two minutes going to Burrows for high sticking. “I think Burrows has kind of a mandate to disrupt Phil so its always nice when you come out on the right end of a big game like that and Phil scored a big goal for us,” added Carlyle. 2) Kulemins New-Found Talent Nikolai Kulelmin surprised many by how well he performed playing centre between Mason Raymond and Troy Bodie on Thursday in Tampa. But he showed it was no fluke with another solid outing on that same line against Vancouver. Assisting on Mason Raymonds goal that tied the game 1-1 early in the third period, Kulemin also improved in the faceoff circle going 7-for-16. “There has been kind of an unveiling of Kulemin at centre,” said Carlyle. “Its been a big surprise for everybody.” With Kulemin heading towards unrestricted free agency this summer, it will be interesting to see if his new-found versatility will affect how the Leafs approach the decision they will have to make. Additionally, Carlyle also indicated that David Bolland should be available once the Leafs resume their schedule on February 27th against the Islanders, giving the Leafs a wealth of strength down the middle with Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Nik Kulemin, Dave Bolland and Jay McClement. 3) Bodie Plays Into Carlyles Good Books Bodie continued to be featured regularly by Randy Carlyle against the Vancouver Canucks, playing 14:13 on a line with Raymond and Kulemin. On Thursday in Tampa, Carlyle suggested that Bodies play has been so strong of late that he felt he owed the Portage Le Prarie native more ice time. “Its a nice vote of confidence,” said Bodie before Saturdays game, regarding Carlyles comment. “Being up and down from the minors, its not the easiest thing to do but to get in the line-up and get some opportunity and to play well with it, its nice. To hear it from him (Carlyle) is good too.” Bodie rewarded his coach, assisting on Mason Raymonds tying goal, and tied for the team lead with six hits. “I think just being strong on pucks, getting into fore-checks and being hard on fore-checks,” said Bodie, on what has allowed him to play into Carlyles good books. “Thats really my game, getting in there and just getting pucks back for the skill guys on the line.” 4) JVR and Kessel Excited For Their Olympic Experience Van Riemsdyk and Kessel played a big part in the Leafs come-from-behind 3-1 win but next week, they will be hoping to display that same prowess for Team USA at the Olympics. The two players along with Kulemin will head to Newark on Sunday and then on to Sochi. “Im excited,” said Kessel. “Obviously whenever you get the chance to play for your country its a big honour and Im looking forward to it.” “Its a huge thrill on this stage,” added van Riemsdyk. “One of the highest levels of sport you can play at is the Olympics and to be with a guy I play with day in, day out, it should be fun.” It would stand to reason that JVR and Kessel would play on the same line with Team USA but both indicated they have not been told as of yet who they will be playing with. One thing is for sure though. If they do play together, theyll have to find a new centre to mesh with. “Im excited to watch them play; I think theyre going to do great,” said Tyler Bozak, who said hell be watching his teammates from the Bahamas over the Olympic break. “Its nice that theyre coming into the Olympics really hot. Im Canadian so if Canada and the U.S. play each other, its going to be tough. I dont know who Im going to cheer for yet.” 5) Olympic Break Concerns The Olympic break couldnt come at a better time for the Vancouver Canucks, having lost seven straight. But for the Maple Leafs, the concern for Randy Carlyle is that the break will interrupt the hot streak the Leafs have found themselves on. “It gives us an opportunity to get our team back together and not to drop what weve done now, its to maintain some level of consistency and push for the last 22 games to get ourselves in the best possible position to qualify for the playoffs,” said Carlyle. With four sets of back-to-back games remaining and a five-game road trip that will take them to Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington and Detroit, the schedule will be a grind. “We know that the games are going to get tougher, were going to go out west, play some Western Conference teams, its not going to be an easy schedule that weve got coming,” Carlyle cautioned. “There are no easy ones in the NHL and theyre just going to get tougher when we come back, thats for sure.” He also opted to leave his players with a message he hopes they heed over the break. “The message was ‘the break is here for you to rest and relax but youd be well advised to make sure that you have some form of exercise taking place a few times during the break because when we come back, were going to go to work,” said Carlyle. Injury Update: Jay McClement left in the second period after tangling with Dan Hamhuis, falling awkwardly into the corner boards. He did not return to the game, playing just 5:22. Randy Carlyle confirmed after the game that McClement had a gash over his eye and went to the quiet room. Stats Pack: 11-2-1: Leafs record in final 14 games 100: Career assists for Tyler Bozak; earned it on Phil Kessels goal 14:13: Troy Bodies ice time; second highest among this season 60%: Tyler Bozaks night in the faceoff circle going 12/20 57%: Nazem Kadris night in the faceoff circle going 12/21 7: Losses in a row for the Vancouver Canucks 19: Games since Daniel Sedin last scored a goal 28: Games Alexander Burrows has gone without a goal Quote of the night: “I dont think anyones happy when stuff like that happens, he kind of went after (Phil). I mean its a scrum, theres going to be tons in hockey but I think Phil kind of likes that stuff secretly. It kind of fired him up. They say dont poke the bear and I think they kind of did there. Phil showed it in the third period.” – Tyler Bozak on Phil Kessels skirmish with Alexander Burrows. Up Next: The New York Islanders to kick off the final 22 games of the regular season in New York on February 27th. Sherrick McManis Jersey
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. - Derek Wolfe says hes finally healthy after suffering a seizure in November that doctors now believe was related to the spinal cord injury he suffered in the preseason.AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods was stricken with more back pain Sunday and withdrew after eight holes at the Bridgestone Invitational. He struggled to even take off his golf shoes before being driven away to an uncertain future. In his third tournament since returning from back surgery, this had the look of a serious setback. Woods injured himself playing a shot from edge of a bunker on the par-5 second hole. With all weight on his right leg, he took an awkward slash at the ball, fell back toward the sand and landed with a thud, and kept jogging out of the bunker from sheer momentum of the steep drop. "I just jarred it, and its been spasming ever since," Woods told a PGA Tour official before leaving. Woods kept playing, hitting a number of shockingly bad shots. He hit one into the water from the fairway on No. 3, coming up some 30 yards short of the flag. And on the par-3 fifth hole, his tee shot was 65 yards short of the hole. From a bunker left of the seventh green, he blasted out and back into the fairway and made double bogey. He grimaced at impact when he hit a 315-yard drive into the left rough on No. 9. Woods slowly stooped over with his right hand on his leg, reached toward his back and slowly bent down to remove the tee from the ground. Moments later, he stepped into a cart and headed for the parking lot. At his car, Woods could barely switch out of his golf shoes. His caddie, Joe La Cava, drove him away. "Its just the whole lower back," Woods said. "I dont know what happened." Masters champion Bubba Watson said he didnt see Woods hit the shot that hurt him on No. 2, though he could tell as the round went on that something wasnt right. "He hit some shots that were not used to seeing Tiger hit, even when hes coming back from an injury like this," Watson said. "So obviously, something was bothering him. ... Like I told him when I shook his hand, I said, Im praying for you. Hope everything turns out good. Hope to see you next week." With the pain he showed leaving the course -- and just four months removed from back surgery -- it would seem unlikely that Woods plays next week at Valhalla, where he won the PGA Championship in 2000. Woods is scheduled to play the opening two rounds with Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington. Mickelson was on the 11th hole -- not far away from No. 9 -- when he noticed Woods leaving. "It didnt look good. It looked like he was really in pain," Mickelson said. "I hope hes OK. I hope hes able to play next week. I hope its a muscle and nothing serious because Im really looking forward to playing with him. We rarely get paired together. If we do, its been early Saturday. "As much as I love playing with him, playingg against him, trying to beat him, we all want him in the field.dddddddddddd We all want him back. I just hope hes OK." If Woods does not play in the PGA Championship, that would be the end of his season. He would have to win the PGA to be eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. In six starts on the PGA Tour this year, Woods finished all four rounds only twice. Woods had back surgery March 31 to alleviate an impinged nerve, forcing him to miss the Masters for the first time and the U.S. Open. He returned after three months to Congressional -- three weeks ahead of his own schedule -- and reported no pain in missing the cut by four shots at the Quicken Loans National. He also reported no pain in four rounds at the British Open. He finished 69th, 23 shots out of the lead, his worst 72-hole result in a major. Woods was 3-over par for his round -- and 18 shots off the lead -- when he withdrew at Firestone. He did not say whether he would be able to play the PGA Championship next week -- "Just trying to get out of here," he told the tour official -- though this surely would make it difficult for Tom Watson to consider Woods as a captains pick for the Ryder Cup. The U.S. captain has said for the last few months that he wanted Woods on the team if he was healthy and playing well. Woods was doing neither. Even so, he had not suggested until the shot on the second hole that his back was bothering him. "Hey, this is supposed to be my second tournament back, not my third," Woods said after Fridays round at Firestone. "Everything is going pretty good. Ive gotten a little bit better, and the good news is Im still getting stronger." This was the second time this year Woods had to withdraw in the middle of the final round. At the Honda Classic in March, he stopped after 13 holes. Woods chose to play the next week at Doral, and his back problems showed up Sunday after an awkward stance for a shot out of the bunker. Woods said it was his physical training over the years and his discipline in following doctors orders following microdiscectomy surgery that allowed him to recover quickly. He has gone through four operations on his left knee over the last 20 years, and said the back injury was "way more debilitating than I thought." "Most of the people I talked to who have had the procedure have no idea how Im even back here playing," Woods said at the start of the week. "They just cant understand that. When you have great protocols and you do everything perfectly, everything fell into place. I was able to get back. But now its just continuing, and I still need to get much strong than I am now, and I still need to get much more explosive than I am now. Thats just time." 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