Leafs need to step up in Philly

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

 To get the green light to Tampa Bay, the Maple Leafs have to first trigger the red one on Broad St.

  That's a must-do at least once if Toronto is to erase the home-ice advantage the Philadelphia Flyers still hold in what now is a best-of-three series. As well as the Leafs have played at the Air Canada Centre this spring -- five straight playoff wins for the first time since 1976 -- their collective post-season record at the Wachovia Center/Spectrum is 5-12.

  Even more alarming are their paltry scoring stats in Philly, averaging one goal in the past five games and 1.82 average going back 17 dates to 1975. The Leafs' season depends on breaking that cycle, either tomorrow afternoon or in Game 7.

 "We haven't had a lot of luck in that building (Wachovia)," coach Pat Quinn said.

 "The answer is to put pucks in the net and somehow we have to find a way to do that. We'll try to go with a plan that if we execute well, will give us a chance."

 The basic formula is there, a pack mentality against the Flyers that hasn't given their scorers or quick defence any room to set up, starting with strong checking up ice.

 "It's nothing that the Flyers aren't aware of," Quinn said.

 "It's more a case of execution on our part. Our first forward has done a good job right through the series putting pressure on their man with the puck and then covering off those areas where the passes are going."

 KATE SMITH

 The Leafs would no doubt like to tow the nearly 20,000 fans who were at the ACC last night up the Delaware River tomorrow as the Flyers crowd has given Toronto fits going back to the Kate Smith era.

 But the Leafs have won a few big games there, such as the 1999 series clincher, a 1-0 victory.

 "We're going to have to fight through it," winger Darcy Tucker said. "We pride ourselves on playing tough everywhere we go. Hopefully, we get a nice break as we did on the first goal (a deflection off Magnus Ragnarsson in last night's win)."

 The Leafs did hold the Flyers to a club-record one shot in the second period of the Game 2 loss and have made Philly look ordinary every middle period in this series.

 "We did what we were supposed to to win these two games," defenceman Brian Leetch said. "Now they have two of the next three in their place. Philly and New York are good sports towns and they're not easy places to play. But it's easier in the playoffs because it's a fun time."


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