March 14, 2006
The Toronto Maple Leafs have picked up the intensity of their play since the Olympic break and they continue to see the results.
Against the struggling Boston Bruins, the Leafs consistently took the body at every opportunity and it helped the Leafs win their second in a row 5-4 in the shootout.
While the entire Leafs roster has made a more conscious effort to be more physical, the line of Clarke Wilm, Tie Domi and Ben Ondrus has done everything that head coach Pat Quinn has asked.
|Ondrus was impressive once again. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
"Yeah I think early in the game we didn't have everyone sharp but there was a lot of energy in those three," Quinn said. "I think it played on the rest of the game and it got more people involved."
All three players contribute in different ways. Wilm the hardnosed checker who is the Leafs top penalty killing forward. Domi is the seasoned veteran who brings speed and hustle and when he drops the gloves like he did Tuesday against Dan Lacouture lookout. Ondrus has quickly become a crowd favourite in only his fourth NHL game. He goes all out every shift, takes the body and isn't afraid to get into a scrap like he did with Travis Green.
"I think it went pretty good," Ondrus said of his first fight.
It was the energy and hustle that resulted in the Bruins becoming undisciplined which allowed the Leafs to battle back from being down 3-1 and 4-2 in the second period.
Thanks to a two man advantage, the Blue and White put the resurgent power play to work. First it was Mats Sundin who scored his second goal of the game to get the Leafs within one and then Bryan McCabe had a little help to tie it.
"It was a great pass from Kabby (Tomas Kaberle), put it on net and it went in," McCabe said.
While the Leafs will take the victory, they realize that for them to make it into the playoffs they won't be doing anything fancy.
"Keep it simple, stay positive and our offence will come," said Nik Antropov.
During the morning skate, Ed Belfour wasn't on the ice and Jean-Sebastien Aubin was called up to be Mikael Tellqvist's backup on Tuesday.
It was the first time this season that Tellqvist played in back-to-back games and he definitely made some big saves to keep his team in the game.
"Telly was big when he had to be, he made the timely saves," Quinn said.
None of the saves were bigger than with time winding down in the third when he robbed a point-blank Brad Boyes shot as time expired.
In the shootout after each stop, Telly had a little fist pump, but when he stopped Marco Sturm for the win, Tellqvist jumped into the arms of Darcy Tucker.
"It's unbelievable, you see everyone's reaction, the crowd, we needed the two points," a delighted Tellqvist said.
With or without Belfour in net on Thursday in Buffalo, the Leafs realize that they will need to continue the playoff-type effort and atmosphere.
"We have a playoff attitude right now in the dressing room," Antropov said. "You have to stay positive and everyone in this town believes we can make it and hopefully we can make it."