Leafs fold to Kings

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:42 PM ET

It is becoming clear Maple Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe won't lose any sleep if he is left off the Canadian Olympic roster when it is announced Dec. 21.

"If you guys didn't mention it, I would never think about it," McCabe said after the Leafs lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings last night at the Air Canada Centre.

"(Canada is) the defending champs of everything. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I have a new baby (daughter Stevie) at home to worry about and if (I am named), it happens. But a two-week break never hurt anyone."

With Wayne Gretzky, Canada's executive director, and much of the team's brass watching from the press box, McCabe symbolized his team's play. He was neither horrible nor outstanding.

Ed Belfour, in his third crack at passing Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of second place in the NHL in career wins, failed again. Both have 447 victories.

The Leafs fired 37 shots at Kings goalie Mathieu Garon, who was the first star, but have lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since late October.

"Once again we did not play good 60-minute hockey," captain Mats Sundin said. "We had too weak of a start and we ended up paying the price."

Of McCabe's 36 points, 23 have come while the Leafs were on a power play, including an assist on a goal by Darcy Tucker last night.

But what Gretzky -- who will be back in Toronto on Jan. 14 when his Phoenix Coyotes visit -- saw has been commonplace for the Leafs.

Toronto was 1-for-9 on the power play, largely because the Kings' penalty killers did a good job of staying close to McCabe, who was unable to unload his powerful slapshot.

"It's a fact -- we haven't as a five-man group adjusted to the changes that penalty killing is making against the top of our setup," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said.

"We're going to have to deal with it. The last little while teams have been successful at taking that play away."

During a first-intermission scrum with a horde of reporters, Gretzky touched on McCabe's chances of representing Canada in Turin.

"He is a good defenceman and we are watching him closely," Gretzky said. "Everybody wants to add guys, but who gets taken off?"

That may have been Gretzky's most telling comment. And what may hurt McCabe most when the team is selected is that he is not brimming with defensive attributes.

As for Kings pest Sean Avery, he had a couple of run-ins with McCabe, but otherwise was a non-factor.

In the first period, McCabe was called for tripping, but referee Kerry Fraser made sure the crowd of 19,403 knew it was McCabe's rarely seen can-opener which got him in trouble. Fraser made a can-opening motion with his hand after he made the call.


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