Leafs Back In Action Against Canucks
Saturday, 10.24.2009 / 4:00 PMMAPLE LEAFS (0-6-1) at CANUCKS (4-5-0)
This will be the first of two meetings between the two Canadian teams this season. The Canucks will repay the Maple Leafs with a visit on Jan. 30. The Canucks took both of last season's games, 4-2 in Vancouver on Nov. 15 and 3-2 in a shootout on Feb. 21 in Toronto. Former Leafs captain Mats Sundin scored the shootout winner for Vancouver.
With the Islanders having picked up a win this week, the Maple Leafs remain the only team in the League without one. Toronto has matched the worst start in its history. During the 1990-91 season the Leafs had one tie and six losses before defeating the Blackhawks.
The Maple Leafs embark on a five-game road trip starting with Vancouver on Saturday. Toronto has also had a full week's rest since its latest defeat, a 4-1 loss to the Rangers in which they actually outshot the Blueshirts 35-28, but went 0-for-6 on the power play with only six shots.
The week's rest allowed the Maple Leafs four straight days of practice and some of their players to heal. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson
, who had been out with a groin injury since the Oct. 6 game vs. Ottawa, participated in a full practice with his teammates on Thursday. The Swedish rookie known as the "The Monster" could start in between the pipes against Vancouver.
"We've got to go out and win a hockey game," forward Matt Stajan said. "We're focused and we know it's a big road trip for us. We want to come back home feeling good about ourselves."
Vancouver is coming off a big win over Chicago on Wednesday, exacting revenge after having fallen to the Blackhawks in the playoffs last season. With a 4-5-0 record the Canucks have been inconsistent with only two straight wins. The Canucks showed that perhaps they were turning a new leaf by outshooting the Hawks 31-20, becoming the first team to outshot Chicago this season. It was also goalie Roberto Luongo's first win on the road since Game 3 in their Western Conference semifinal in Chicago.
"It means a lot to the group, everybody knows we hadn't won on the road and this was a good win," Mikael Samuelsson said. "We struggled a little bit, but once again we came back from their lead, so that was huge."
Samuelsson had a goal and assist in Vancouver's win over the Blackhawks and is second on the team with nine points. And while Henrik Sedin hasn't scored in two games, he leads the Canucks with 11 points. Leafs defenseman Ian White, who's tied for the team lead with four points, had Toronto's lone goal last Saturday against the Rangers.
Canucks defenseman Sami Salo is on the IR with a sprained right MCL and Daniel Sedin's broken foot also keeps him out of the lineup. Toronto's veteran goalie, Vesa Toskala, is still out with a knee injury.
The Maple Leafs are the lowest-scoring team in NHL with only 14 goals in seven games; the Canucks, on the other hand, are 14th in the League with 25 goals in nine games.
While the Canucks haven't been the most consistent team this season, alternating wins and losses in their last five, it still won't be an easy task for Toronto to grab its first win. But perhaps leaving the T-dot will do the Leafs some good.
-- Magalie Lafrenière, NHL.com