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Mats Can't Do it Alone

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Matthew Iaboni

February 11, 2006

(TORONTO) -- The Olympic break couldn't have come at a better time for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs lost both games of a home-and-home series to the New York Rangers. Saturday night, the Rangers defeated the Leafs 4-2.

While six Leafs players and head coach Pat Quinn will be taking part in the Olympics, the majority of the players ponder what the team will need to do in order to turn things around in time for a playoff run.

Mats looks to be rounding into form.
(Graig Abel Photography)

Quinn didn't think that the results over the last two games were necessarily the right outcome.

"If you look at the score heck no," Quinn said. If you look at the two games, we played pretty well, first period we were good, third period we were good but three mistakes cost us."

Two players who were determined to try and turn the clubs fortunes around were captain Mats Sundin, who played his second straight game without a visor and Tomas Kaberle.

In the first, Sundin had the best chance to get the Leafs on the board when he made a nice inside outside move on the Rangers defencemen but his backhand clanked off the post.

The captain's luck continued in the third as Sundin was at the side of the net and his shot hit the post, bounced off Kevin Weekes shoulder and over the net.  The frustration was evident on Sundin's face but it was one of his better games in what has been a tough season.

It just wasn't on the offensive end that Sundin was a force as he had excellent jump and mixed things up a few times with Darius Kasparitis but he alone couldn't get the rest of the team to follow him.

The other player who continued to play his usual solid game at both ends of the ice was Tomas Kaberle who signed a contract extension with the Maple Leafs earlier Saturday evening.

Kaberle was very pleased to get the deal done.

"The Leafs were always the number one thing and I never wanted to go anywhere," he said. "We have a great bunch of guys, and hopefully we can play well in the next 25 games to get into the playoffs."

Maple Leafs general manger John Ferguson was extremely happy to have the 27 year-old under contract for the next five years.

"Tomas represents a core part of our organization and we rely on him to play in all situations," Ferguson said. "Tomas figured to be one of the young premier free agents in the off-season and we are pleased that he is committed to being a big part of our future success."

Quinn was thrilled that Kaberle will be around for the next few years.

"He's a terrific young man and he's a big part of the team," Quinn said.

With Kaberle in the fold for the next five seasons, the Leafs will look to get Bryan McCabe under terms as well.

"That would be our intention, certainly,'' Ferguson said. "They've both demonstrated their contributions to the club, they really drive the team. They're a real strong tandem for us. We've got a plan in place that includes (signing) them both.''  

The Leafs will look to regroup when they host Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on February 28 at Air Canada Centre.

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