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Looking to Bounce Back Tuesday

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Now in his sixth 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.

November 27, 2006

(TORONTO) -- In the six-hundred and eighth all-time meeting between the Leafs and Bruins there was a spark. A reminder of what was, and what hopefully still can be.

Most often fostered by recent playoff wounds that have yet to heal (but clearly not in this instance since they haven't met in the post-season since 1974) there was a hint of nastiness and dislike. And in today's sometimes impassive NHL, at least it's a starting point.

It will come as no surprise that one could identify Darcy Tucker as the cause of, dare we say, a renewal of this formerly glorious old-time rivalry. His first period hit (some would say charge) on Zdeno Chara triggered a chain reaction by the Bruins, ending with Paul Mara earning the respect and more of his mates for instigating and tussling with Tucker.

Tucker would later questionably upend Marco Sturm, leading to the Leafs lone goal.

And if post game quotes, and our knowledge of the individual involved are any indication, Tucker plans to be at the centre of it again on Tuesday.

And for that, Leafs Nation should say thank you.

If multiple head to head meetings in short order, including consecutive games between the same two teams in the same city, is meant to enhance the game, there needs to be something of a carry-over to keep us all interested. Over-coaching and off-day adjustments to merely change the outcome won't suffice.

The NHL, while quite likely taking away some of the physical exuberance of the game by how its contests are now called, had to be hoping that an increase in "home and home series" would help balance out the emotional equation.

In a few instances it has, but overall it hasn't, and one has to think that the way these series have been scheduled has something to do with it.

For me, a home and home series used to mean playing your opponent at home on a Friday, and then going into their barn on Saturday. No down time, just games.

Now it can mean that, but more often means two games in three days, sometimes four, and often in the same city, even though many teams (like the Bruins) will go home between games to enjoy more family time.

The reasons behind fewer "traditional" home and home's are understandable. More teams, meaning more complex travel schedules. Multi-purpose facilities with multiple teams and other events. So perhaps the league should just accept the fact that if it can't do home and home's the way it used to, just move on. Why force it?

When thinking back to last year, Toronto found themselves in seven such situations. And really, the only one most remember was the Leafs consecutive losses in Montreal on March 23 and 25. Partly because of how deflating it was for the team to squander such critical points in very lopsided fashion, but mostly because of how it seemingly ended their playoff hopes.

The Leafs record in those supposedly amped up games - 4-9-1.

This year they've played the Senators back to back twice and went 1-3-0. Now they can at best garner two points from a head to head set with the Bruins.

So even though the schedule may have given these teams too much time off between games, here's hoping that this series can be the springboard to more memorable Leafs-Bruins battles in the future.

Clearly Tucker is doing his part. We'll see who, and what, will follow.

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