Juggling Act From Quinn
by John McCauley
December 23, 2005
(TORONTO) -- Pat Quinn liked some of the things his team did in Thursday's loss to the Bruins saying "we were just good enough to lose."
Juggling his lines, offensive and defensive, helped turn the Maple Leafs fortunes into being "just good enough to win" after achieving a 2-1 victory, Friday night at Air Canada Centre.
Quinn split up his dynamic duo of Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe to try and get a better all-around defensive effort, but kept them together on the power play resulting in both Leaf markers.
McCabe's 12th goal of the year proved to be the game winner. Kaberle assisted on that marker and also on Darcy Tucker's PP tally for another impressive performance from the blueline tandem.
During even strength play McCabe was paired with Carlo Colaiacovo while Kaberle was along side Ken Klee. Aki Berg and Alex Khavanov were the third pair.
"We just trying to find better balance through the six," said Quinn. "It is like playing with lines. If you flip them around maybe you might find something a little bit better."
The result was fewer defensive miscues and that is something the Leafs need to build on. Quinn would like to see his team concentrate on defence and let that build into the offensive end.
"I really believe that we have a group that can come together," Quinn said. "I think we have a team that can be a good hockey team and could go a long way."
The forward combos were also switched up by the veteran head coach. Mats Sundin was with Darcy Tucker and Chad Kilger. Jason Allison centred Alexei Ponikarovsky and Mariusz Czerkawski. Clarke Wilm was between Tie Domi and wade Belak.
The only line to stay intact was Kyle Wellwood, Matt Stajan and Jeff O'Neill.
Tucker leads the team with 15 goals and Quinn has loved what he's seen from his winger this season.
"He is seeing some results in his game that are a little bit different," said Quinn. "That maturity could help him be one of our top guys.
"In the last little while he has been one of our most consistent (players). We need that leadership and it is a time in his life to be that leader."
How long these lines stay together depends on how the team does Boxing Day against the New Jersey Devils.