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No Mogilny is a problem

Saturday, 25.01.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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No Mogilny is a problem
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Alexander Mogilny is easily the most refreshing thing you'll ever find in a NHL dressing room.

The Leafs' leading scorer believes that he is utterly unimportant. The fact he answers questions --when he can't avoid them-- about such trivial things as statistics or how he's feeling physically, boggles his mind.

With the Colorado Avalanche in town though, Mogilny's presence, or lack there of, was of utmost importance especially when the Leafs were riding a two-game losing skid and having some big-time trouble scoring.

Alex Tanguay netted the game winner early in the Leafs loss.
Graig Abel Photography
Two straight shutouts and one goal in their last three losses, including Saturday night's 3-0 defeat by the Avalanche, and the Leafs find themselves in a full-fledged scoring drought as the All-Star Break approaches. The team hasn't scored a powerplay goal in 30 opportunities.

Quite simply not enough pucks are getting to the net.

"Our power play has gone south on us," coach/GM Pat Quinn said. "When your special teams dry up and your not playing well 5-on-5 you're not going to win many hockey games."

Part of the struggle is the loss of Mogilny. The playmaker made the mistake of coming back too soon after missing back-to-back games with a deep bruise in his foot. With only a morning skate under his belt he jumped into action against the physical Flyers on Tuesday and his back problem flared up.

"I felt decent yesterday morning and terrible last night," Mogilny said trying to describe why he didn't play in Buffalo. "I just have to strengthen my back. The second half is important and I have to make sure I'm ready to go."

The game isn't everything to Almo, no matter how many people in hockey-mad Toronto think it is. Despite his views though, there aren't many players that enjoy setting up a teammate more or watching others succeed. Not even an All-Star snub gets this guy upset.

"It means nothing," Mogilny said.

Comments like that have earned him his aloof reputation when it comes to hockey, but it doesn't represent him accurately. The only thing he tries to do is distance himself from his own success. There is no doubt though that he wants to win. The evidence is all over his face every time he sets someone up or buries the puck.

Right now the Leafs could use him on the ice not in the press box. With Toronto not playing until Wednesday chances are he could be back in the lineup. If not the Leafs will just have to find a way to score.

"I think we are just not getting open for each," Alyn McCauley explained. "We have to generate more offence and that comes through defence."

NOTES: Mikael Tellqvist will be sent back to St. John's on Sunday. Trevor Kidd's groin has healed enough to take on backup duties.
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