Despite success, Leetch is low key

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:35 PM ET


 The Maple Leafs got more than just a defenceman who can move the puck extraordinarily well and play sound positional hockey when they picked up Brian Leetch on March 3.

 They acquired a guy who excels in post-season action and, in particular, Game 7 situations.

 Leetch had the best Game 7 record of any player heading into the Leafs-Ottawa Senators clash at the Air Canada Centre last night. In three previous Game 7 situations, the Corpus Christi, Tex., native was 3-0 with three goals and two assists.

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 His greatest Game 7 triumph came in the 1984 Stanley Cup final versus the Vancouver Canucks, when the New York Rangers earned a 3-2 win to end a 54-year Stanley Cup drought.

 Still, Leetch was decidedly low key about his team's chances before last night's game or his stellar play in Game 7 situations.

 "This puts you in an opportunity to get where you want to go and try to advance to the final," Leetch said yesterday. "The reason you get to a Game 7 is because the teams are evenly matched and because each game is usually close and the series has some ebbs and flows. That's why we're here, both teams have been able to regroup after losses."

 The Senators, as a team, were 0-3 in Game 7s heading into last night and three key players -- captain Daniel Alfredsson, Radek Bonk and Wade Redden -- had never won a Game 7 in three attempts. Alfredsson, who had three points in the first six games against the Leafs this series, had zero points in three past Game 7s.

 Ironically, the guy the Maple Leafs were hoping against hope would be ready to play for Game 7 last night, captain Mats Sundin, is the only member of the blue and while with three losses and no wins in previous Game 7s. Sundin, who missed Games 5 and 6 with a suspected quadriceps muscle injury, did not play in Toronto's 3-0 Game 7 win over the Senators in the 2002 Eastern Conference semi-final because of an injured left wrist.

 A pair of Leafs veterans, Ron Francis and Alexander Mogilny, who has been a major disappointment offensively in this series, each had eight points in Game 7 situations entering last night. Francis had eight points in six games, while Mogilny recorded his eight in seven.


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