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Leafs Searching for Answers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

by Matthew Iaboni

December 10, 2005

(Toronto) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are in quite a power outage.

The power play is struggling and the Leafs are coming up empty offensively ... period.

The power play had been a strong point for the Maple Leafs in the early going of the season but has hit the skids and it is no surprise that the wins have also been hard to come by in the last week.

Saturday against the red-hot Dallas Stars it wasn't any different as the Leafs lost 2-1 - leaving head coach Pat Quinn experimenting with his lines looking for answers.

"We were searching for something to give us some offence," Quinn said. "Generally the only offence we were getting was from young (Kyle) Wellwood who had a couple of spurts but other than that we weren't getting much. Typical of us as of late we're playing very individually and still never put any pucks at the net, over pass and try risky plays all in an effort to try and get some offence."

The Leafs used the man advantage to win many games in the first two months largely by having Bryan McCabe one-time defence partner Tomas Kaberle's perfect passes.

Teams have now taken McCabe's blast away by having a forward shadow him on the point and the Leafs haven't been able to adjust. Against the Stars the Leafs tried to have McCabe slide down low but the Stars covered extremely well and the Leafs couldn't get much though for goalie Marty Turco to handle.

Over the last five games the Leafs are five for 38 on the power play. Looking at those numbers a little more closely, the Leafs scored three power-play goals in a 4-0 win over Atlanta and have scored two in the other four games.
Captain Mats Sundin felt Quinn had no choice but to alter things with his combinations and he's mystified at the offensive struggles, especially on the power play.

"I wish I knew," Sundin said when asked why the power play can't score. "I would've corrected it. We're not getting pucks through, they're playing higher on Bryan and Tomas."

On the first power-play unit at the start of the game, Quinn had Sundin with Jason Allison and Alex Steen with McCabe and Kaberle manning the point. His second unit had Eric Lindros, Darcy Tucker and Nik Antropov with Alexander Khavanov and Ken Klee.

These combinations didn't produce any goals and in the third period, Quinn desperately tried to get his offence jump started by changing the lines again.

Lindros was moved to the wing to play with Sundin and Tucker. Steen was moved to a line with Tie Domi and Wellwood who yet again dazzled with his quick moves as he had two great chances in the second period to but couldn't put the Leafs on the board.  

The Leafs don't have much time to get ready for the next Pacific Division opponent as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are here on Monday.  After that the Leafs are off until next Saturday when they travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators. With all those practice days after Monday's game Quinn will be back at the drawing board trying to figure out a way to get the Leafs back on track.

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