Sundin off the mark

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

By Mats Sundin's standards, two assists in five games is like a rainforest deprived of rain.

In trying to figure out why the Maple Leafs have lost three of their past four games -- and looked bad on both power-play and five-on-five hockey -- the captain called his own number yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

"I feel like I'm skating and all that, but I feel the timing is not there," said Sundin, a model of consistency with 1,103 points in 1,103 NHL games. "I certainly don't have the goals (four in 17 games) that I want."

What's frustrating to Sundin is that he's centring one of the most compatible lines he ever has enjoyed in 10 years as a Leaf, between Alex Steen and Darcy Tucker. But Sundin admitted his month-long layoff with a fractured orbital bone has been a factor and coach Pat Quinn has sensed that, too.

"Just because your head wants you to step in and your desire is there to go back to where you were, you have to get a feel out there," Quinn said. "You're starting to press to have things happen the way you think they should happen. A lot of times you (start to) go to places where you can't help, where you're not available for passes.

"He's fighting through that right now and whether it's the injury and the time off, I don't know."

But Quinn is not yet ready to give into temptation and try Eric Lindros or Jason Allison alongside Sundin .

"A lot revolves around Mats, but he won't look around for someone else to make a change," Quinn said. "The three of them (Sundin, Tucker and Steen) are good together."

In back-to-back home losses to San Jose and Los Angeles, Sundin had more than 20 minutes of ice.

"I felt good out there (against the Kings), good legs and good strength," Sundin said. "I'm still creating a lot of chances and I know if I still do that, the goals will come."

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WHAT'S THE POINT?

Points-per-game for Mats Sundin each season (traded to Toronto from Quebec in 1994):

YR. PPG: YR. PPG

'90-91 .74 '98-99 1.01

'91-92 .95 '99-00 1.00

'92-93 1.43 '00-01 .90

'93-94 1.01 '01-02 .98

'94-95 1.00 '02-03 .96

'95-96 1.09 '03-04 .91

'96-97 1.15 '05-06 .82

'97-98 .90


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