by John McCauley
January 8, 2004 (TORONTO)
-- Sooner or later the injuries had to catch up with the Leafs, everyone knew that, but what head coach Pat Quinn didn't expect with so many regulars out of the lineup was a sub-standard effort.
The Ottawa Senators walked through a sluggish and dazed bunch of Leafs in a 7-1 victory, Thursday night at Air Canada Centre. Five first-period goals, by five different Sens, buried the Leafs in what was easily their worst game of the year.
Martin Prusek, Ottawa's backup netminder, stopped 34 shots for his eighth victory and extended the team's stretch of prosperity to 11 games without a loss to tie the club record.
Without Mats Sundin, who was serving a one-game suspension for tossing his stick into the crowd in Tuesday's win over the Predators, Toronto looked like a team that just didn't believe they had a chance to win. Who could blame them really, with six other regulars out of the lineup aside from the captain (Belfour, Nolan, Reichel, Mogilny, Kaberle, Belak).
|Brad Leeb made his Maple Leafs debut while mate Kyle Wellwood made his NHL debut. (Graig Abel Photography) |
Trevor Kidd, who was solid in back-to-back starts previously, didn't have a good night letting in a couple marginal goals. The blame shouldn't fall totally on his shoulders though. He didn't have a team in front of him that wanted to do the little things, or in some cases the basic things, necessary to win.
Kidd even heard it from the crowd at times, but took it in stride.
"I played in Calgary for four years (so I've heard it before)," Kidd said with a chuckle. "They were just as frustrated as we were."
Quinn didn't put the blame on his backup.
"It would be hard to pick him out (for the blame)," said Quinn, who will be head coach of the Eastern All-Stars next month thanks to a Philadelphia OT loss. "There were two or three empty net goals."
Obviously disappointed with the effort, Quinn did have some glowing remarks for his team, which have give him the chance to be at an All-Star game for the fourth time.
|Pat Quinn will be at the All-Star game. (Graig Abel Photography) |
"I don't feel good right now, but this is a team honour," Quinn said. "It isn't anything that the coaches do.
"I'm very proud of these guys (for the season they are having)."
Yes it was a bad loss and yes hopefully the Leafs remember what it feels like to be outplayed like this, but more than just pride will make the boys keep this one in the memory banks.
Daniel Alfredsson mocked the bench by feigning to toss his broken stick into the stands in reference to Sundin's suspension. Needless to say, Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker didn't think it was funny, especially with the score completely out of hand in the third.
"This kid does those sorts of things. I guess he thinks it's funny," Quinn said. "I guess he thinks somebody will ask me a stupid question about it and I'll have to give a stupid answer."
Quinn was still upset about Sundin's predicament when asked.
"That whole episode sickens me so I don't want to get into that."
Nothing came of the Alfredsson incident though, but guaranteed it won't be forgotten in the Leafs dressing room. ALL-STAR STARTERS VOTED IN BY FANSGoaltenders
Martin Brodeur -- New Jersey: 136,495
Ed Belfour -- Toronto: 89,685
Nikolai Khabibulin -- Tampa Bay: 83,721 Centers
Joe Thornton -- Boston: 51,247
Jeremy Roenick -- Philadelphia: 51,168
Joe Nieuwendyk -- Toronto: 44,208
Mario Lemieux -- Pittsburgh: 41,775
Mats Sundin -- Toronto: 36,618 Defencemen
Scott Stevens -- New Jersey: 121,838
Scott Niedermayer -- New Jersey: 104,567
Brian Leetch -- NY Rangers: 63,704
Sergei Gonchar -- Washington: 58,337
Zdeno Chara -- Ottawa: 56,682
Dan Boyle -- Tampa Bay: 53,322
Danny Markov -- Carolina: 50,923
Eric Desjardins -- Philadelphia: 49,966
Bryan McCabe -- Toronto: 47,984