Leafs, Roster Buffaloed
by John McCauley
March 6, 2004
(TORONTO) -- If the regular season is any indication, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be hoping they miss the Buffalo Sabres in the first or any other round of this Spring's Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the fourth-straight time this year the Leafs failed to pick up a win against Sabres, who are trying to catch the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto has historically had trouble with Buffalo resulting in a 46-70-18-0 all-time record with the club.
"We had no flow and didn't do the little things," said Tie Domi whose Leafs had their three-game streak snapped.
|Buffalo seems to have the Leafs' number.
(Graig Abel Photography)
It seems as though there's nothing the Sabres love more than beating the Leafs. On the other hand, the Leafs have looked sleepy and lethargic in all but one of their meetings this season, which was a 3-3 tie at Air Canada Centre back on Jan. 3. Sloppy defensive errors have cost the team throughout the season series.
Tomas Kaberle was not displaying his talents in Saturday's 5-1 loss. The defenceman was directly responsible for turnovers resulting in Derek Roy's back-to-back tallies in the first period. These types of errors have to be ironed out especially if the Leafs have any hope of keeping pace with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Ottawa.
"It's the same story against some teams. We couldn't handle the pressure plays," a disappointed Pat Quinn said. "It was an off night for our whole team."
The injury bug seems to have gripped the team once again after Mikael Renberg left the game with a head injury. He took a big hit and just didn't feel right.
"He had his bell rung. He is not concussed, but was not able to continue," Quinn said. "He was just fuzzy like I felt tonight."
The puck-strong winger was playing with Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky thanks to Joe Nieuwendyk being out with back spasms. Nieuwendyk isn't expected to miss much time and could possibly be in the lineup on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.
Promising rookie Matt Stajan was not in the lineup for a second straight game. The 19-year-old was sent to St. John's in a paper transaction so the Leafs could get to the 23-man roster limit.
After the trade deadline on Tuesday all teams can expand their rosters so expect Stajan to be back in uniform.
Nathan Perrott skated in his first game since February 17 against the Boston Bruins. He was given permission to leave the team for personal reasons on Thursday and wasn't part of the team's roster against the New York Islanders.
The roster crunch did cause the team to lose Craig Johnson, who was picked up on waivers by the Washington Capitals Friday.
Bryan Marchment and Drake Berehowsky were healthy scratches, but could be back in action soon considering the performance of Karel Pilar, who was minus-3 on the evening. In his defence, his errors weren't as glaring as those of Tomas Kaberle, but Quinn isn't likely to take him out of the lineup.
Newest Leaf, Brian Leetch registered his fourth point in two games assisting on Darcy Tucker's lone Toronto goal.