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Renberg regaining goal-den touch

Saturday, 14.12.2002 / 12:00 AM / News
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Renberg regaining goal-den touch
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Not many celebrate a goal like Mikael Renberg.

His face lights up, his hands are pumping and he looks directly for his set-up man before anyone else gets the big hug. On this night it was Mats Sundin, as it is on most occasions, who was the recipient of all the love.

The Leafs captain assisted on Renberg's insurance marker early in the third period of Saturday night's 4-1 win over the struggling New York Rangers. It was the Leafs eighth-straight home victory, one shy of the record.

Mikael Renberg can forecheck better than most in the corners.
Graig Abel Photography
Renberg now has 11 goals, just three less than he had in 74 games last season. The big forward has had the scoring touch before as a member of the "Legion of Doom" line in Philadelphia. He had 38 tallies during his rookie campaign and three subsequent 20-plus goal seasons.

Since then though it's been a struggled finding the back of the net. Injuries, playing overseas to be closer to his daughter and just an apparent loss of confidence had many thinking Renberg's scoring days were long over.

Things have changed for the 30-year-old.

"When I get the puck now I really don't think I just shoot," Renberg said. "That's the way it is when you get some goals and get a little confidence. I don't score pretty goals, but they seem to go in for me this year."

Head Coach Pat Quinn always has had glorious things to say about Renberg. His ability to forecheck and force turnovers keeps him in the good books. Even last season when the goals weren't coming, Quinn was still supportive of his player.

"He's getting results." Quinn said describing the difference in his play. "Last year his work ethic was just like you're seeing every night now, but clearly he is on a roll statistically speaking and his work has just been magnificent."

The Leafs will need Renberg to continue his scoring touch over the next 24 games, 17 of which will come on the road.

INJURY UPDATE

New York was without right wing Pavel Bure, goaltender Mike Richter and defenceman Brian Leetch in the loss.

Bure is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Monday to determine a timetable for his return. Leetch has missed New York's last four games with an ankle injury and Richter is out for the season with a concussion.

The boys from Broadway were in enough trouble making the playoffs without taking it on the chin in the injury department.

Toronto on the other hand has remained relatively injury free of late.

Robert Svehla survived Jeremy Roenick's vicious hit on Thursday with nothing more than five stitches and some ugly bruising. Shayne Corson is still out with a slight tear in his groin. He's about a week away even though he has been skating.

The only other injury the Leafs have is to power forward Gary Roberts. The veteran hasn't been seen or heard of much, but he is slowly rehabbing both of his shoulders from summer surgery. He has been on the ice a few times and is on track for his January/February return.
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