Quinn caught by surprise

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

This is Jeremy Jacobs' 31st season as the owner of the Boston Bruins and, this week, for the first time in memory, he gave his team a public tongue-lashing.

He may want to think about making it a more regular feature.

Or, maybe he should use his considerable influence to schedule more games against Toronto, though it already seems as if they play each other about every other night.

After watching the Bruins sleepwalk through a six-game losing streak, dropping to last place in the tough Northeast Division, Jacobs went off in the press on Tuesday, delivering a Steinbrenner-esque critique of his team's efforts so far in this season of renaissance in the NHL.

With their owner's words still ringing in their ears, the Bruins came out last evening and embarrassed the Maple Leafs 5-1.

Or, maybe the Leafs just embarrassed themselves. Hard to tell.

"It was ugly," Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "We were bad and it showed. No excuses. We were terrible."

Toronto was never in this game. The Bruins began with a flurry, peppering Eddie Belfour with 11 shots before Mats Sundin tested Boston goalie Andrew Raycroft for the first time in the game's eighth minute.

By the end of the first period, Boston led 2-0 on a pair of Glen Murray power-play goals and had outshot Toronto 18-4. After 40 minutes, it was 4-0 and the Bruins were outshooting Toronto 33-11. That stat is a reasonable barometer of the play.

Often times, when the Leafs fail to show, as they did last night, Belfour is there to bail them out. But even he caught the disease this time.

On Boston's third goal, Belfour fanned on a clearing pass, then compounded the problem by chasing the puck almost to the blue line, where Patrice Bergeron deposited a gimme.

"Yeah, he did fan on one," Quinn conceded. "There's no question about that but, hell, he didn't have much of a team in front of him."

"They were hungrier and more determined," Belfour said of the Bruins. "We didn't match their effort."

The Leafs came modestly to life in the third period to score their only goal but, by then, the Bruins, obviously concerned about the consequences of blowing this crucial game, were content to play rope-a-dope to the finish. The Leafs were content to let them do it.

"Sometimes you just don't see it coming and I didn't see this coming," Quinn said. "Clearly, right from the start we took a bad penalty and couldn't kill it. Pretty close after that, another bad penalty. We were doing all the wrong things and none of the basics. We got what we earned, or didn't earn, tonight."

Coming into this game, with his team riding the crest of a four-game win streak, Quinn also was mindful of his team's all-too-comfortable attitude.

'No clue'

"You like to think you're professional," Quinn said. "And you approach your job to be ready to play. Those factors are all there. You sit there afterward and try to figure out what was it for so many players to be off the game.

"No clue in our practices, no clue in our prior games that this was going to come up like that."

Now they face a stretch of five games in seven days, four of them on the road, which, given their horrid performance after a three-day layoff, may be just what this team needs.

Even during their recent win streak, the Leafs have not necessarily gelled as a team. It's a common problem all over the league where teams turned over their rosters, some more dramatically than others.

The Leafs, by necessity, made more changes than many teams and the newcomers, many of them playing key roles, have not necessarily bonded to their new surroundings.

One thing is sure: They can't play much worse than this.


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