Leafs face power surge

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Normally, the Maple Leafs would be thrilled that club records for power play production are likely to fall this season.

Jeff O'Neill's six goals are almost a third of the way to the Leafs' season mark of 21 set by Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark in 1993-94 (an 84-game schedule), while Bryan McCabe has 13 power-play points.

But when the Leafs came out of their home-and-home series with the Washington Capitals, their power-play percentage was down to 15.2%, stretching back seven games.

Special teams is taking up more and more prep time for coach Pat Quinn, his assistants and the team's video department.

"We do it for every game now, especially penalty killing," Quinn said Tuesday night. "We'll have to spend more time on (power play) now because it has kind of gone flat, for all the chances we had, with the skill guys we have and the open ice available now."

The Leafs continue to enjoy quality 5-on-3 time, but it was a 4-on-3 that led to one of their goals against the Caps, while Washington cashed in its own 5-on-3.

McCabe says Quinn lets the unit do some freelancing when they hit a wall, leading to a recent experiment where McCabe leaves the point and goes low as a screen, with a forward replacing him.

"They (Caps) were pressing me pretty hard on the point, taking my shot away," McCabe said. "So there's no point in me just standing there as a lame duck. I tried to go down and it seemed to open things up a little bit."

Mats Sundin's return to the lineup three games ago has invigorated O'Neill, who scored in each contest.

O'Neill, whose personal best is 17 power-play goals in one season, was shocked he could get the Leaf record at his current pace.

"Holy (bleep), that's something I didn't know," O'Neill said. "It just might be broken (by someone on the Leafs). The catalyst is Bryan with his shot. If the other team takes it away, then other things can open up."


Videos

Photos