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Duff Cues Up Leafs @ Sens Set

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Now in his fifth season with Leafs TV you can watch Brian Duff hosting pre- and post-game shows for all the breaking news surrounding the Blue and White.



January 19th, 2006
(TORONTO) -- Eight - nothing. Eight - two.

Through 46 regular season Leafs games, those are the two scores that stand out most.

Sure they clubbed Atlanta, and their minor league goaltender, 9-1 back in October.

And they posted nine more against the Islanders, insert own joke here, December 19. (Of course they nearly needed each and every one of them before winning 9-6) But 8-0 and 8-2 were, not only not in favour of the Leafs, they were personally delivered by their friends in Ottawa.

Emotions always run high when the Leafs and Sens face off.
(Getty Images/NHLI)

Before this season, only once during Pat Quinn's tenure with the team had they been humiliated by the Senators. That was on January 8, 2004, a 7-1 debacle at Air Canada Centre.

Need a refresher?

It was two days after Mats Sundin had carelessly discarded a broken stick about 20 rows up into the masses and while he sat out suspended, his fellow countrymen and Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson, in the midst of the lopsided affair, broke his own stick and playfully mocked what netted Sundin his one-game hiatus.

From that point on, if it hadn't been obvious before, Alfredsson became public enemy number one in Leafs Nation. More importantly, the Leafs were furious, at least some of them anyway.

And do you recall what followed?

  • Toronto 5 Ottawa 1 on January 31
  • Toronto 5 Ottawa 4 on February 5
  • Toronto 2 Ottawa 2 on March 27

 

And of course, a seven-game, opening round series win, making Toronto four-for-four in the playoff version of the Battle of Ontario.

The point of this history lesson, as we bring it back to today, is that the Leafs need to find that spark. That anger. That passion. That desire. Whatever it is that is needed to, at the very least compete with Ottawa during two games in three nights at Scotiabank Place this weekend.

Yes, injuries have played a role in Toronto's season-worst four-game losing streak, but look around the league. It's not a valid excuse.

Even if it were, the problem is not that they are losing. It's how, and how many care to do their part to change it?
The most frequent bursts of aggression and emotion are not happening on the forecheck, but instead when a member of the blue and white is being summoned to the box.

Not a friend of fans in Toronto.
(Getty Images/NHLI)

That penalty parade must end as well. They've allowed eight goals in 28 man-short situations during this current slide. Ottawa ranks third on the power play and went six for 11 versus Toronto the last time they met!

The Senators started the weekend 15 points ahead of the Leafs but since last they met, their records are nearly identical: Ottawa 8-5-2, Toronto 8-6-0.

Somewhat troubling for those in the capital (although it's irrelevant this weekend) is that the home team is only 2-5-1 against division leaders so far. The two wins coming against Carolina, the five losses vs. Carolina (2), Philadelphia (2), and Dallas. An overtime setback against Calgary came on the heels of a shootout loss in Vancouver, so, like the Leafs, Ottawa found themselves in tough against western Canada.

Another stat that may be of some concern for Bryan Murray's team: 5-7 in one-goal games (but 2-0 vs. Toronto). This one can be read a couple of different ways.

They're actually 5-3-4, so they are picking up points, but as we know, in the playoffs there are no bonus points.

And the total, just 12 one-goal games, is by far the fewest in the league. Which suggests, and accurately so, that they win a lot of lopsided games. In fact, they've won 19 times by three or more this year!

When trying to pick apart the Senators with numbers, theres very little ammunition. Almost everything adds up to a very powerful team.

A team that is 4-0-0 against it's arch-rival this season. A team that leads the league in goals for and goals against.
 
A team that Mats Sundin says will bring the best out of his team.

We'll see.

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