Sens, Leafs battle for goals in Toronto
Tuesday, 11.02.2010 / 7:00 PM
NHL.comSENATORS (4-6-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (5-4-1)
— SNET-E (HD), SNET-O (HD)
— Senators 4-5-1; Leafs 5-4-1
— This is the second of six meetings between the Northeast Division rivals. On Oct. 9, Leafs forward Kris Versteeg had a Gordie Howe hat trick to lead Toronto to a 5-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
— Both teams will be looking to rediscover their offence. The Senators were shut out by Boston 4-0 on Saturday, while the Leafs will try to score for the first time in three games, following back-to-back shutout losses to the Bruins and Rangers last week.
— There was good and bad news for the team Monday. The good was the return to practice of defenceman Filip Kuba
and goalie Pascal Leclaire
. Leclaire has missed more than two weeks with a groin injury, but will be Brian Elliott
's backup Tuesday and could start a game next week.
Kuba, who hasn't played after breaking his leg in the pre-season, could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday.
The bad, however, was team captain and leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson
had to leave practice early after tweaking a pre-existing lower-body injury. Although Alfredsson also didn't take the pre-game skate at the Air Canada Centre, coach Cory Clouston indicated his status will be a "game-time decision" but that he expects Alfredsson to play.
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"He's not 100 per cent and he knows his body better than anybody," Clouston told reporters following practice. "He felt a little tweak, a lower-body (injury) but he should be fine for (Tuesday)."
— When the Leafs take the ice Tuesday, it will mark one week since their last goal. Back-to-back shutouts against the Bruins and Rangers ran their goal drought to 122:24, dating to a 3-1 win Oct 26 against the Panthers.
"We've got to just find a way around the front of the net," coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto Sun
. "Be sharper, be ready, think like a goal-scorer. We've got a lot of guys on our team ... who don't have a resume that says they've scored anywhere. We've only got two or three guys who feel comfortable with some scoring chances. Other guys, maybe they get a little nervous when they're in tight."
The players in the Toronto locker room believe the solution to the problem is a look in the mirror.
"No one's going to come in and help us get out of this," captain Dion Phaneuf told the Sun
. "It's the guys that are in this room that are going to get us out of this and we're confident we will."
— Ottawa's ageless captain, Daniel Alfredsson
, has five goals and seven points in his last five games. … Leafs center Tyler Bozak has just one goal this season, but he's been pretty good against the Senators in the past. Last season, he had four points and a plus-3 rating in three games against Ottawa, his best numbers against any opponent.
— The Senators will be without forward Milan Michalek
, who has tendinitis in his left knee. Kuba won't play Tuesday, but he's close to returning. Alfredsson is questionable Tuesday, but it would be surprising to see him sit out a Maple Leafs game … The only missing Leaf is forward Colby Armstrong, who isn't expected back for at least another month following surgery to repair a broken finger.
— The 13 goals scored by Phil Kessel (7) and Clarke MacArthur (6) are three more than the rest of the Maple Leafs' roster has scored. Of that group, only Tim Brent and Colton Orr have more than one goal.
— Ottawa GM Bryan Murray believes Nick Foligno
has the ability to be a top-six forward, but three assists in 11 games haven't been what either is looking for this season.
"He has to get some points," Murray told the Ottawa Sun
. "As I said to him, I think I've tried to go to bat for him with the coaches. To make sure he gets the opportunity, ice-time wise and with linemates. I just want him to take advantage of that. That's all."
Murray also wants Foligno not to start pressing because he sees the big zero in the goal column.
"It is frustrating," Foligno told the Sun
about his drought. "I want to be able to score for this team. I believe in myself still. I'm not to the point where confidence is at an all-time low. I've got to make sure I put myself in those areas that are allowing me to score goals. … They're coming. I'd be more mad if I didn't have chances ... I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."