"Little Things" Let Leafs Down
by John McCauley
October 22, 2005
(TORONTO) -- Pat Quinn has been preaching at his players to pay close attention to those "little things" or their run of good fortune -- four straight wins -- would almost certainly turn foul.
For two periods at least the Leafs heeded the warning of Quinn, who was coaching his 500th game behind the Toronto bench.
His message got muffled in the third period as turnovers ultimately led to a 5-2 defeat by the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
"They got better in the third period and we didn't," said Quinn. "We became pretty easy to play against. Once they got those two easy ones we changed."
The easy ones in question were goals by Mike Knuble and Donald Brashear. Both times the Leafs were running around, not communicating and the Flyers took advantage.
"We fell apart in the third. We were playing pretty sharp, but we didn't do the little things that we've been doing of late," said Eric Lindos.
What are those little things? Not so strangely enough they are small details that you would think most professionals would have no problem doing. Taking your man, getting the puck off the boards and out, sweeping away rebounds, talking to one another out on the ice, getting shots through to the net, pushing the puck in deep offensively ... these are all things needed to win and if not done on a more-than-regular basis then you'll often pay with a loss.
On the positive side, Tomas Kaberle let a slapshot go from the point that blew right by Robert Esche. It was his first goal of the season and Quinn hopes it is a sign of things to come for the very talented defenceman.
"We've talked about it for seven years," Quinn said of Kaberle's preference to defer to his mates. "His mindset is pass first. If he ever has both of those elements (passing and shooting) going he'll have something."
Lindros, it must be noted, continued his torrid pace with his seventh goal of the season, which tied the game at two early in the third.
Toronto gets another shots at those "little things" Monday against the Bruins.
Notes: Quinn, who previously coached Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Vancouver, has coached a total of 1,244 NHL games - most among active head coaches, and fourth all-time. He trails only Scotty Bowman (2,141), Al Arbour (1,606) and Dick Irvin (1,449).
Photo by Graig Abel Photography