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Road trip means different things to Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Matt Akler

Looking at the Leafs 2-2-1-0 record after the first five games, you would say they are an average team. But that's like saying if you have one foot in a bucket of boiling water and one foot in a bucket of ice water you should be at a comfortable average temperature.

Toronto has been hot and cold with strong performances against Anaheim and Carolina and lesser efforts against the Senators and Blues. Perhaps the best thing for the Leafs would be to get away and that is exactly what's happening with their three-game west coast swing that begins in Edmonton on Tuesday night.

"We've got a big road trip where we can build as a team together and hopefully get some wins," said Bryan McCabe who has arguably been the team's best defenceman thus far, garnering a second-star accolade on Saturday.

Head coach Pat Quinn has been part of the NHL fraternity for three decades and understands what lengthy road trips mean.

"There are always pros and cons to that (a long road trip)," he said after a moment's reflection. "But going away won't hurt us. It gives us some time to be together. I hate that word - bonding - but getting away helps because you have time to use properly."

Some players spoke in stronger terms about the value of having this team hit the road after Saturday's disappointing loss to the Blues.

"That game was like a slap in the face," said Dmitry Yushkevich. "Now we can go away for a couple days and get on track and do the simple things like play very strong and hard in our own end."

Yushkevich was one Leaf who suggested that the team likes to entertain more in front of the home crowd which may result in the team getting away from some of the disciplined play they need.

One Leaf who understands the benefits of going away but doesn't feel it impacts his own game is stalwart netminder Curtis Joseph.

"It's always good for a team to go away," he said. "You spend a lot of time together, you eat together, sleep together but for me it doesn't make any difference whether we're at home or on the road."

Another Leaf who will find this trip rewarding is newcomer Travis Green, who will hear the cheers that always follow the Leafs in their trips to Western Canada.

"It will be special for me to go to B.C. and play," said the native of Castlegar, British Columbia "I have a lot of friends and family there. It will be a neat experience (hearing cheers for the visiting team), that's for sure."

However, the Leafs hope to generate cheers for more than just showing up.
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