January 23, 2006
More Grit, More Scoring, More Defence, Same Result...
If you asked anyone in the Leafs dressing room after Saturday's harrowing loss to the Ottawa Senators, they likely would have told you the team needs to show a lot more grit and dig a little deeper.
The grit was back Monday and, led by an unlikely candidate in Tie Domi, the Leafs came awfully close to finally taking down their provincial rivals.
|In just 9:27, Tie Domi made a big contribution Monday. |
(A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC)
Domi recorded a goal and an assist, was named the game's third star and engaged in a second period tilt with Ottawa's Chris Neil, all in just 9:27 of ice time.
"We all try and make a difference in our own way," said Domi. "I think I'm looked upon as one of the guys on this team to be a leader and we all try and do our part."
However, it's safe to say that the Leaf vet won't be framing the score sheet from this one and was less than pleased with what has transpired over the last two days, both on the ice and in the newspapers.
"(The media) all want to point fingers at coaching or goaltending, but if you look at our games it has nothing to do with coaching. It's simple basic hockey mistakes that we've got to cut out or we're not going to win many hockey games. We were better tonight, but not good enough."
With 14:31 to play in the first period Monday, defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo - perhaps looking to demonstrate some of the technique shown by his elder counterpart Bryan McCabe - was heading in reverse, backside first, looking to throw a hip check at Ottawa's Chris Kelly who was carrying the puck along the boards.
But inbetween the young blueliner and the puck handler was Vaclav Varada. Neither of the two saw one another and the awkward collision that followed send Colaiacovo into the boards head first.
Colaiacovo lay motionless on the ground for a long while as doctors and trainers attended to him.
He was bleeding from what looked like his head as staff fitted him with a neck brace and loaded him onto a stretcher and off the ice. He was given an ovation and acknowledged the crowd with a thumbs-up as he was taken off the ice.
"It's never pleasant when you see someone go into the boards that hard and not being able to protect themselves, so obviously we were concerned," said Mats Sundin after the game.
Many observers, including Varada himself, thought that the Toronto defenceman was running interference and trying to check a man without the puck, but upon review you can see he was indeed tracking Kelly who had the puck and didn't see Varada until it was too late.
"I don't even think he saw Varada actually," said Sundin. "He was going to hit someone else and he lost his balance and went into the boards so it was purely incidental."
It wasn't a dirty play, just an unfortunate one.
The good news is Colaiacovo was not taken to the hospital, was walking around freely after the game and did take the team charter back to Toronto.
When you're used to seeing games in any sport at a particular venue, traveling to another arena is a little like going to, say a McDonald's in another country.
Sure they have Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, but they just taste a little off and the wrapping is a little different.
Such is the case at the newly named Scotiabank Place.
Like at Air Canada Centre, they obviously play music, but it sure isn't the same music. Two personal favourites on Monday night - Check the OR, by Ottawa's own Tom Green and his early 90s hip-hop trio Organized Rhyme and even better, something one would never expect to hear in a hockey arena, the theme from the 1980s show Airwolf - priceless.
In Toronto, there are plenty of giveaways and in-arena contests for a wide variety of prizes from cash to pizza. Here in Ottawa, they have much of the same - cash included, but unless this writer is mistaken, in Toronto the game operations crew has never given away a 10 kg bag of road salt. They did just that here Monday night.
Hopefully, that lucky winner drove a car to the game and doesn't have to lug that bag home on the bus.
These may sound like digs at the inter-provincial rivals, but they're not and Senators fans get full credit. Even with their building half-full of Maple Leafs fans, they are loud and they are proud.