Higher goals for Bryan

MIKE ZEISBERGER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The driving sheets of rain pelted him upon exiting Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday was more than reason enough to potentially leave Bryan McCabe in a gloomy mood.

Not to mention the fact that he and fellow powerplay specialist Tomas Kaberle have yet to score a goal this season.

A year ago, the McCabe-Kaberle tandem provided one of the few offensive highlights for a Maple Leafs team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998. Their 19 goals combined with the man advantage fuelled one of the top power plays in the league.

But if you figured the modest goal-scoring drought of Kaberle and McCabe would be enough to saddle the Leafs No. 24 with a sour demeanour, guess again.

Weather aside, he's actually quite upbeat.

Armed with a new lucrative five-year deal, McCabe only cares about one stat these days -- victories.

And with his Leafs off to an impressive 3-1-2 start, he couldn't give a lick if he and Kaberle have yet to light the red lamp through the team's first six games.

"It doesn't matter to me as long as we are winning," McCabe said yesterday.

"Mats (Sundin) has got a laser beam and he has been getting a lot more shots. As long as the power play is getting chances, scoring the odd goal, and we keep winning, who cares who gets the credit?

"We're winning, having fun, playing well ... it's all good."

Coming off a season in which they led the NHL with 107 power-play goals, the Leafs entered play yesterday ranked just 18th in the league with the man advantage.

MISLEADING

But the fact that they have gone just 5-for-31 (16.1%) with the extra man is a bit misleading, considering the consistent quality scoring opportunities being generated.

That, in a nutshell, is one of the most significant differences between last season's squad and this year's Leafs.

On many a night last season, the Leafs were sunk if Kaberle and McCabe were not carrying the power play.

Not this year.

Since opponents started pressuring McCabe, trying to take away his shot -- a tactic that became common during the latter stages of last season -- other options have opened up.

The primary one seems to be Darcy Tucker, who has drained four of the team's five power-play tallies by stationing himself at the edge of the crease.

BENEFITS

"One thing's taken, others start opening up," McCabe said. "Obviously, Darcy is reaping the benefits right now. (Kyle Wellwood) is making some great passes down low, and things are going well."

Coach Paul Maurice agreed with the assessment.

"Bryan McCabe hasn't scored because Darcy Tucker has," he said.

The Leafs kick off a three games-in-four-nights run when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

They then travel to Columbus to meet the Blue Jackets on Friday before facing off against the visiting New York Rangers Saturday.


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