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Leafs a major flop in Philly

<span class="subhead1" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder_article_NavWebPart_Article_ctl00___SubTitle1__">Gerber, Joseph pounded by Flyers' sharpshooters</span>

PHILADELPHIA–Brian Burke this week identified improving his goaltending as a priority for next season.

Nothing the Maple Leafs' general manager saw last night will change his mind.

Although
Toronto hopes netminding salvation will come in the form of Vesa
Toskala's surgically repaired groin and hip, the team is also giving
Martin Gerber a long look over these last games of the season. As,
undoubtedly, is the rest of the league as the 34-year-old becomes an
unrestricted free agent this summer.

An ugly night like this was
the last thing Gerber wanted. He was in net for all but two of the
goals as the Flyers built a 6-0 lead and then coasted to an 8-5 victory.

"We
had some guys basically mail it in tonight," said Leaf coach Ron
Wilson. "We knew they'd come hard. Some guys didn't want the puck in
that situation."

On a night when free-agent signee Christian
Hanson made his debut as a Leaf – the 10th rookie to make his NHL debut
in the Toronto lineup this season – this game was more memorable for
the performance from the player they didn't get.

It's old news
now, but Toronto had a deal lined up at the 2008 trade deadline to
acquire Jeff Carter as part of a package in exchange for defenceman
Tomas Kaberle. Carter served up a reminder last night of how
unfortunate it was for the Leafs that Kaberle declined to waive his
no-trade deal.

Carter was brilliant all night and helped lead the
Philadelphia offence with a hat trick while adding an assist. He now
has 44 goals on the season. Daniel Briere also had a four-point night
for Philly with a goal and three helpers.

Gerber, just back from
serving a three-game suspension for abuse of an on-ice official, was
given the hook in the first period, this time for abuse of his save
percentage.

The Flyers picked apart the veteran goaltender,
pumping three goals past him on nine shots in just over nine minutes.
Typical of these embarrassing moments, however, it wasn't entirely
Gerber's fault. Toronto's defence was horrid and the lead could have
been larger even quicker if Gerber hadn't made a couple of good early
saves.

"It wasn't pretty, that's for sure," he said. "You feel
like you're playing soccer and the net is getting bigger and bigger. It
happens. You have to battle through."

Padding the Flyers' lead
was left up to backup Curtis Joseph. Coming in cold off the bench, the
41-year-old yielded two goals on the first four shots he faced.

The worst was the first, a bad-angle floater from the boards off the stick of Scott Hartnell that somehow eluded him.

Carter
then scored a beauty as he was sprung on a breakaway on a terrific lead
pass from Darroll Powe and finished with a lovely deke to his backhand.

Toronto went back to Gerber for the start of the second and that period didn't start so well either.

Philadelphia
scored on its first shot and it was another terrific goal from the
Flyers who looked like hockey's version of the Harlem Globetrotters
tossing the puck around like it was on a string.

Philly's sixth
goal again belonged to Carter, his 43rd of the season, but it was
Briere who made it happen during a power play. Briere danced through
the slot and fired a perfect pass to Carter, stationed at the edge of
the crease for the tap-in.

It's no surprise the Flyers came out
flying. Their general manager, Paul Holmgren, called them out Thursday
for recent indifferent play that included a half-hearted 3-2 loss at
Toronto on Wednesday.

Holmgren said the team's key players – Carter, Mike Richards, Mike Knuble and Hartnell – "need to step up now."

They got the message.

 
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