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"A Player's Journal" with Alyn McCauley

Wednesday, 11.12.2002 / 12:00 AM / Features
Toronto Maple Leafs

Alyn McCauley has been with the Leafs organization for five seasons, peaking with his 15-point playoff performance last year. Alyn will share his thoughts with you periodically as he and the Leafs battle towards the Stanley Cup this season.

by Alyn McCauley
-- Leaf forward and all-around good guy

First my injury update. I injured my groin against Detroit. My first game back was against the Senators in Ottawa and I felt pretty good. The second shift I believe it was, I went to hit an Ottawa player on the powerplay coming across the ice and jammed my wrist.

Missed a game, but got back in against Philadelphia, who is really tough at home. I thought we were really turning the corner at that point and then also winning over Buffalo, who is a team that gets excited at any time we play each other. Those were two hard fought victories.

During the course of that, more because of my injuries than anything, I started trying the wing out. Since then I've played with Travis Green, who's been taking a lot of the face-offs in our own end. I'm really the centreman on our line, but because he's taking the draws most of the time he has to play the middle until we can switch back.

Alyn McCauley is concentrating on his defensive game.
Allsport
I don't mind playing the wing. It's really the first time in my whole career -- minor hockey included -- playing there. I feel more comfortable now after playing 10 or 12 games over there. It's much different, you can't just follow the puck around like a centreman.

As a winger you're up and down the wall and you need to support sometimes, but you're usually the guy that's trying to get open or the first or second guy in on the forecheck. It takes a little time to get used to that and not use my instincts as a centreman.

Team wise it's a much happier room, everyone's in a better mood around here. We've won some games and set some small goals to win three games in every five and we've been pretty successful at that.

Eddie's played exceptionally well and as a team we've played better defensively in front of him. He's seeing the puck so well. I remember in the Philadelphia game sitting in the bench and I had a great angle of where a point shot was going. I couldn't see Ed's face, but I could see the empty net where the puck was going. Then all of a sudden it was right in his trapper.

I talked to him after the game and asked him if he saw that puck and he said, 'I knew that it was coming and more or less knew that area, but it just went in my glove'. It seems the pucks have started to go our way. Before we were shooting ourselves in the foot by giving up untimely goals and we've bared down in those areas.

There's certainly a greater confidence in the room that somebody's going to score and it's not always going to be Alex.

On a personal level the puck certainly hasn't bounced the way I thought it would. I was very excited about the way the season ended last year. I really thought it would take off. It hasn't, not to say that I've forgotten about that and that it won't, but I thought I should really stress my defensive game and concentrate there and I think I have.

I've felt comfortable all season long, really this is the best I've felt in the regular season. My injuries have restricted me a little bit but I feel great. It almost like 75 per cent of the puzzle is there, but the last 25 per cent, which includes the finish, the goals and the points aren't quite there.

Going forward we've got ourselves in the playoff hunt. The hole was pretty deep the last time we talked, but it's been filled up. If we're unable to catch Boston it's going to be a real fight to the finish to stay in there.

We had our miscues early in the season and can't afford another one, but maybe if Boston runs into some injury trouble we can catch them before the end of the season.

Talk to you soon,

Alyn McCauley

Check back for the next instalment of "A Player's Journal" with Alyn McCauley.
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