When the Leafs signed free agent Alexander Mogilny in the summer many believed they were getting a prime goal scorer. And there is no doubt they were. However what many didn't realize is that Toronto was also acquiring a skilled player who is as gifted a playmaker as he is a finisher.
Those talents were on full display in the Leafs 3-2 over the Sabres on Saturday at Air Canada Centre. He had one goal and two assists in the affair, marking the sixth time in the last eight games that he has recorded at least two points. In four of those six outings, two of the points have been assists.
On top of the point total in this game were the numerous scoring opportunities he created with his speed, puckhandling and vision. But in the nonchalant fashion that is typical of Mogilny, he brushed off any compliments about his playmaking.
| Mogilny has brought his well-rounded game to Toronto. |
"It doesn't matter if you score or get an assist as long as someone is getting the goals," he said after the three-point night. "I have the same number of goals as assists in my career. I love it (helping others score). When I see the guys smile and score the goals it's beautiful."
One of the prime beneficiaries of Mogilny's setups has been Darcy Tucker
who is on a pace to totally shatter his own personal records. With two assists against the Sabres, Tucker now has accumulated 12 goals and 30 points in 33 games, just nine goals and 13 points shy of tying his career bests of 21 goals and 43 points set in 1998-99.
"Obviously he's helped immensely," Tucker said of Mogilny. "He's one of those guys who is very gifted. There are not many guys in the world who have that much talent. When he gets going, watch out.
"(Fellow linemate) Shayne (Corson) and I are gritty guys. Alex adds an element of play while playing good defence. When we get the puck now, we don't just shoot it in. He creates room for us and we create room for him. I think we complement each other very well."
Easily recognized as the game's first star, the Russian winger now has 20 assists, tops on the team and only a couple helpers out of the league's top ten in that category.
"I've been playing with Corson and Tucker for the last few games now. Obviously we've found some comfortable areas and we've hit our stride," said Mogilny.
Hitting that stride comes as no surprise to Pat Quinn, the man who brought Mogilny to Toronto and was once his coach in Vancouver when the speedy player was a 55-goal scorer.
"He should be known as a playmaker. He's not the prototypical winger out of Russia where he hits a spot and then stops," said Quinn. "I've said it before, he is one of the most complete guys when on the attack that I've ever had the privilege of coaching."
Another parcel of Mogilny's complete package was on display in the third when he hustled back to break up a two-on-one while the Leafs were holding that slim one-goal lead.
Just another area where Mogilny, unexpectedly, excels. Notes:
Tucker got his 200th career point in the second period and he said, "if someone told me I'd have 200 points in an NHL career when I was 15 I would have laughed at them." ... The Leafs had a two-to-one shots on goal advantage for most of the game, finishing with 28 to Buffalo's 18 ... After the game, the Leafs were expected to send Paul Healey back to St. John's.