TORONTO - One of the most valuable commodities for a player to have is versatility and Travis Green is as rich as any Toronto Maple Leaf in that category.
The 31-year-old veteran doesn't often get the credit stars like Mats Sundin or Alexander Mogilny get for their skills but that doesn't diminish the fact he has turned into one of the Leafs' most important players.
Green showed his improved play again Saturday night during the Leafs' 2-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre. His name wasn't on the scoresheet, which snapped his four-game point streak, but his ability to play in all game situations has made Coach Pat Quinn's job a little easier.
| Travis Green brings a lot to the table. |
Graig Abel Photography
"He's one of those boys that you like having because he can play any position and he can adjust," Quinn said before talking about why Green has improved the last couple months. "He's much more active and he's around the puck."
Coming over last summer with Robert Reichel and minor leaguer Craig Mills, Green will be extremely handy in the playoffs. He can play all three forward positions, plays time on the penalty-killing and power-play units, is a good face-off man and most importantly is a good forechecker.
"I'm just trying to do whatever is asked of me. Obviously as a player you want to play in every situation," Green said.
On this night Green played mostly with Shayne Corson and Mikael Renberg. That is until Renberg's hamstring flared up and forced him to miss the third period. He is listed as doubtful for Monday's game in Philadelphia.
As usual Green was on the second penalty-killing unit, which in general was nothing short of stellar. The Sabres were 0-for-4 with the man advantage and to Corey Schwab's delight didn't even sneak a shot on goal during those eight minutes.
"When you get confidence from the (coaching) staff it helps," Green said "I've been playing with a lot good players this year too."
Puck pressure and winning the little battles along the boards were the main reason for the Leafs success against the stingy Sabres.
"That probably was the best defensive game we've had since I've been here," Schwab said. "We cut down the chances and that's the way we want to play heading into the playoffs."
Schwab stopped 20 shots for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs' uniform and first in over three years. The game slowed to a snail's pace at times making it difficult to watch. If you love trap hockey, you got a treat from the Sabres.
Tie Domi and Mogilny scored the goals for Toronto, which sent the fans home happy even if it was a little on the dull side.
To Green, winning is the only thing that matters. His commitment to doing anything and everything the team needs has brought his game to a new level, which is appreciated by only a few. NOTES:
Robert Reichel didn't play due to back spasms and is doubtful for Philadelphia. Paul Healey is expected to be recalled ... The Leafs first shot didn't come until the 6:47 mark of the first period ... Mogilny, Roberts and Sundin played together as a unit ... Jeff Farkas was called up before the game.