January 24, 2006
(TORONTO) -- Let's connect some dots here in an attempt to offer another view on something else that has heavily impacted the Toronto Maple Leafs as their losing streak has climbed to six games.
Why isn't more being made about the absence of Bryan McCabe and Darcy Tucker? While we're at it, let's toss Eric Lindros in there, too.
|McCabe's slapper has been missed on the power play. |
See, the last time the Leafs won a game was at Edmonton on January 7. That was the last game McCabe played. Is there a link? Absolutely. He earned two assists that night, a major factor in the 3-2 verdict. That lifted his season total to 49 points, which still ranks No. 1 among defencemen in the National Hockey League! McCabe's 15 goals were just tied on January 23 by Detroit's Mathieu Schneider for first among NHL blue liners and, Detroit's Nik Lidstrom passed McCabe in the assists lead among defencemen on the same night, putting the Leaf in a tie for No. 2.
Furthermore, McCabe's the top point-getter for the Leafs and the power play, with him on the point working his one-timers on feather passes from Tomas Kaberle, is without question far more dangerous. One other note...how does Pat Quinn replace the almost 30 quality minutes per game McCabe has provided this season?
Tucker has been shut down with a rib injury since playing at Vancouver on January 10. He's merely the Leafs leader in goals (18) and power-play goals (11). He's feisty and, like McCabe, he shows up every night. You think maybe he's missed?
McCabe and Tucker, who are roommates on the road, are drastically required in the lineup by the Leafs. Don't forget, when the Senators were without stars Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza for a stretch, their play suffered, it had to. Unfortunately for the Leafs, they never hooked up to face Ottawa with those two key Senators absent.
As for Lindros, he last played against the Dallas Stars on December 10 before a wrist injury put him on the injury list. Granted his 22 points in 30 games weren't exactly tearing up the NHL but of his 11 goals, eight were in the third period so in close games who knows what he might have been able to do.
In this six-game losing streak, the Leafs have been blown out once, 7-0 against the Senators on January 21.
|The Leafs could use Darcy Tucker's abrasiveness and goals |
Otherwise, points were within reach in the other games...one-goal losses to Vancouver, Phoenix and Ottawa, two-goal setbacks to Colorado and Minnesota. With McCabe and Tucker in the lineup during the Leafs six-game winning streak, it should be noted the Leafs found a way to win five games by one goal so their presence was felt.
"I came out of the penalty box (in Edmonton) and I caught a breakaway," McCabe said recalling how he sustained his groin injury in Edmonton. "The puck bounced out so I went to take off and the first stride I took, I noticed something was wrong. I got a small tear in there.
"It was very frustrating. There are a lot of things you can play through but a groin isn't something you can really mess around with because it'll nag you for the rest of your career. So it's something we're going to have to take care of now. You know it sucks but I guess you'd rather take the time now than in April or May when the playoffs come around."
At this stage, though, the Leafs are on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.
"It's really tough, especially when the team isn't doing so well," McCabe said of having to watch from afar. "Obviously, you want to be there and you want to support your teammates, help them out on the ice but right now, rest is in the menu for all three of us. We've got a good character group and we've always been a team that steps up when guys go down so I expect them to pull out of this and win some games."
Leafs Nation is hoping he's right.