Jinxed?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

BOSTON -- Jason Allison has scored at least one goal against all but one National Hockey League team.

Call it a mental block with a capital B, as in the hub logo of the Boston Bruins sweater he wore for 4 1/2 productive years.

Allison had 294 points for Boston before a trade to Los Angeles in 2001 that marked a significant decline in both his health and points.

He returned last night with the Maple Leafs, eager to show he still can score and put another log on the fire of the Boston-Toronto Northeast Division rivalry.

"There are ups and downs as always, but I'm really excited to come back and do what I know I can do," said Allison, who had 10 points in nine games as a Leaf entering last night. "This was my home for a long time. You're with guys for that period of time (such as Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov). They were friends and guys you went to battle with every night."

The 30-year-old, who had not played since early in the 2002-03 season with Kings, laughed when asked how a passionate sports town such as Boston ranked with the laid back hockey atmosphere in southern California.

"Look where I am now (in Toronto). The fans are in your face there, too. But it makes it so much more exciting as a player to have that kind of buzz around a city.

"You should use that as an advantage."

Allison has found this season a challenge on a number of levels: A new team, the return of a grinding 82-game schedule after months of inactivity, stricter National Hockey League rules and life in the Leafs fish bowl.

"You have to adjust any way you can," he said. "New teams play different styles, but you use your experience and try to make the adjustment faster.

"It has been great. Every kid who grows up playing hockey in Toronto (Allison in North York) grows up a Leafs fan. The excitement around the city is amazing. You can watch your whole life and be a big fan and get to participate. By far, it was my first choice (as a free agent).

"(The rules) are a little inconsistent at times. Not to blame the referees, they're adjusting themselves, too, to figure things out.

"As a player, there's a lot of grey area as to what's a penalty and what's not, but on the whole it has been good for the game."

Coach Pat Quinn stuck to a pre-season plan to make Mats Sundin, Eric Lindros and Allison his three centres, even after the captain's serious orbital bone injury on opening night. Allison remains on a line with Darcy Tucker and Jeff O'Neill, combining for 27 points through nine games.

Allison hoped to end his nine-game scoreless string against Boston last night.

He had only two assists against them, compared with a combined 65 points against all the team in the Northeast, including Toronto.

The Leafs have yet to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins, Allison's favourite team to play. He has 30 points against them in 25 games.


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