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Sluggish Play Hurts Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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by Matthew Iaboni

October 18, 2006

Coming off a stunning overtime win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday, the Maple Leafs couldn't keep the momentum going Wednesday as they fell to the Colorado Avalanche 4-1.
The Avalanche didn't give the Leafs much time in their own zone.
(Graig Abel Photography)


The Leafs started the game on the right foot when the fourth line, which was seldom used Saturday, opened the scoring as Bates Battaglia potted his second of the season after some hard work by John Pohl.

But unlike previous games, the Leafs didn't keep skating and that allowed the Avalanche to walk out of Toronto with the win.

Toronto seemed a step slow in every aspect of the game. Passes weren't as crisp, the puck pursuit wasn't as fast and that all resulted in the fewest number of shots by the Leafs this season with 28. It was the first time this season that the Leafs didn't have 30 shots in a game.

Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice wasn't pleased with his teams effort.

"We didn't skate that well, we didn't have confidence with the puck and because of that we didn't shoot the puck," Maurice said. "And that builds frustration into your game."

The head coach wasn't going to get an argument from his players.

"Today's our worst game by far," said Alex Steen. "We didn't have the jump, we didn't put pucks to the net. They were strong down low. We wanted to get the puck out as quick as possible but we weren't able to do that." 

One player whose effort couldn't be questioned was goaltender Andrew Raycroft. He kept his teammates in the game with numerous saves.

"I felt alright, I made some saves," the Leafs netminder said. "You're not going to score five or six goals every game. We will go back to the drawing board."

In previous games, the Leafs moved the puck quickly out of their zone but Colorado pressured the Leafs and hemmed the Blue and White in their own zone for long stretches at a time.

"We didn't go back and get the puck quickly," Maurice said. "We had it, turned it over and then scrambled to get in position and that's what gave us problems."

Another worry for the Leafs bench boss is the minutes that his top pairing of Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe have been logging as of late.

"Yes it's too much but it's too much because the play's too much in our end of the ice. I'd like to play them a little bit less," said Maurice who acknowledged that missing Pavel Kubina factors into the situation. 

Despite having three days off, the Leafs didn't want to make that an excuse for the way they performed on Wednesday.

"It was probably our worst game overall," captain Mats Sundin said. "I thought we started pretty good but for some reason we didn't have the pace or intensity as we did in the previous six games."

The Leafs won't have much time to let this loss sink in as they play their second back-to-back on Friday when they travel to Columbus and return home to face the Rangers. 

"They've had a strong start to the season," Steen said of the Blue Jackets. "We have to have jump and kill their energy and get more shots."

The game Friday is available on Leafs TV. Order Leafs TV today or you will miss all the action.

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