Leafs' offence must find life

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:48 PM ET


 Following their 2-1 win over the Leafs in Sunday's Game 2, Flyers rebel Jeremy Roenick surmised that goalie Robert Esche had firmly planted himself in Toronto's collective psyche.

 Poppycock, the Leafs say.

 "I don't think so," Mats Sundin said. "I think Esche had a good game, but we have to keep creating traffic in front of him. It's a fine line between a couple going in, instead of him saving them."

 Esche, a native of Whitesboro, N.Y., who has one of the better playoff beards going, has allowed a goal a game in helping the Flyers take a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven semi-final.

 The Leafs are starting to get an idea of what it was like for the Ottawa Senators in the first round. For the most part, the Sens couldn't buy a goal against Ed Belfour.

 DOING GOOD THINGS

 "I thought we did a lot of good things (on Sunday)," Sundin said. "We played well enough to win, but I think we had a few games in the series against Ottawa that we won because Eddie stole the game for us."

 Ron Francis, the Leafs' resident grandfather at age 41, knows Toronto can't fire blanks much longer.

 "We understand goaltenders are going to go through stretches," Francis said. "When everybody talks about a goaltender who is playing well, the first thing they talk about is getting more in front of him. We have to throw pucks at the net and hopefully that opens the gate."

 It's natural to wonder why some of the more talented Leafs have not been scoring. But when checking becomes paramount in the playoffs, goals are scarce. That's a great theory until it's reminded the Flyers have beaten Belfour five times in two games.

 "We have a lot of guys who are muckers and bangers and throw their heart on the ice, but they don't always have the hands to finish it off," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "That's showing up now. Our guys who are thought of as scorers have to work harder to get chances."

 And hope Esche is not there to slam the door again when they get them.


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