Alyn McCauley has been with the Leafs organization for five seasons, peaking with his 15-point playoff performance last year. Alyn will share his thoughts with you periodically as he and the Leafs battle towards the Stanley Cup this season.
by Alyn McCauley
-- Leaf forward and all-around good guy
Before the All-Star break we finally got things back on track in Carolina. I had a couple of good scoring chances, skating on a line with Tie Domi and Tom Fitzgerald at that point. Then we were in Atlanta and I had a good game. Tie scored early and then set me up late in the third to cap off the win for us which was nice.
To get a goal always feels good and I didn't have to wait as long for it as other times of the year.
During the break my wife and I took a trip down to Niagara on the Lake. It was great to spend some time down there and just relaxed. Our daughter is great, but she doesn't always sleep through the night. So my wife got two solid nights of sleep which was great for her. We went out and saw some antiques as well as the Casino Niagara. Thankfully I didn't leave anything behind there.
It was a good break. I also spent two days at the end with my family and almost one full day by myself with my daughter, which was really nice.
Then it was off to Florida, which was also pretty nice because of the weather. We played a really good game (6-0 W) and I had probably the most scoring chances I've had all season. Then we had another win in Tampa before heading home.
| McCauley takes care of business in his own end. |
Dave Sandford Getty Images/NHLI
We faced Edmonton at home and I had a goal in that one off a nice little play by Tom (Fitzgerald) to set me up in the slot. We fell short of a comeback there, but we fought hard to finish the game. Things looked better going into Chicago though.
I had a goal in Chicago and it was a good feeling to have goals in back-to-back games. It was nice to feel confident around the net again.
After that I was moved to a line with Travis Green and Darcy Tucker and we've meshed pretty well together the last five games or so. We've accounted for a few goals, but had numerous chances and been a line that's been accountable defensively and one that Pat Quinn has used towards the end of periods.
That's always a nice boost for the confidence as well, when you're a line that the coach trusts when the going gets tough or we need a job done in our own end, whether it be a face off or whatever. That's the first time all year for me anyway that that burden has been placed on my shoulders or shared with me and it's a good burden to have.
In terms of our recent success, for one we've been converting on the chances that we've been given, but we haven't started real well in a lot of games, yet we've battled back so it's nice to see that character aspect to our team. That's not to say that we didn't know that that was there.
I remember my second year as a Maple Leaf, that team that we had never lost in overtime and that carried right through the playoffs. We lost in the semifinals, but that was a key factor come that time of year.
One thing we have to remember with our team is that we've got a very potent offensive bunch, so we can never count ourselves out. I think that for a little stretch of the last 10 of 12 we played well defensively with a couple of shutouts and one or two goal games as well. Recently that hasn't been the case but at the same time we continue to score at the rate we were and that allowed us to win some of the games at the end.
The defence caught up to us in the last game (Nashville) and the reason that we were given that kind of result was the Ottawa game. Probably our best all-around game of the year. We had to battle physically, we had to be smart, we had to be patient, positioned quite well, and also because of the opposition, at this point that would have to be our best game of the year.
Personally I have some personal point-mark goals for myself, but more importantly as a team, I'd like to see us break that 100 point mark that we've tied a couple of times now, but never got beyond. I think Ottawa has a comfortable lead, unless they really faulter towards the end, it'll be a tough test to catch them.
But if we stay as hot as we have been, we'll give them a little run for their money.
I'm not really a guy who follows what's in the media too much, except to check my diary on mapleleafs.com of course, but the topic had risen about me being a possible trade candidate to San Jose or trade candidate period.
It's something that creeps into my mind, but one that I've talked over with my wife and she's behind me and knows that we have to do what we need to. She knows that it's part of the game and that puts my mind at ease quite a bit and allows me to focus on the Toronto Maple Leafs and winning for them.
If I am traded I'm certainly going to miss Toronto and the fans and everything that goes along with being a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Talk to you soon, Alyn McCauley Check back for the next instalment of "A Player's Journal" with Alyn McCauley.