Tick, tick, tick ...
Mocked in their own city for scoring just 11 goals in their first six games, the usually high-powered Ottawa Senators were a time bomb ready to blow.
The long-awaited explosion finally came Saturday night, with the beleaguered New Jersey Devils absorbing the brunt of the blast.
By the time the carnage had been cleared from the ice the Senators had humiliated the visitors by an 8-1 score, running all-star goaltender Martin Brodeur out of the game in the process.
Four hours to the west, the Sens' offensive onslaught caught the attention of the Maple Leafs here in Toronto.
Faced with the prospect of a home-and-home series against their cross-province rival this week, the Leafs were hoping the sleeping giant wouldn't wake up.
No such luck.
Now, with the Senators regaining confidence after their lopsided victory, the Leafs realize the task ahead will be even more daunting.
The teams lock horns tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre before moving to the nation's capital Thursday for the return leg.
"They've been getting beaten up in the media," Leafs forward Michael Peca said. "Everybody. Even their top players. They've been simmering for a while and they finally exploded."
This is a big week for the Leafs, who face three consecutive divisional games, including a pair versus the Sens and a date with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre Saturday.
At least they can take to heart their opening two games of the season, both against Ottawa. The teams split those contests, with the Sens winning 4-1 in Toronto before being pasted 6-0 in their home opener one night later.
After going just 1-7 against the Sens a year ago, the Leafs certainly welcomed that shutout victory on Ottawa ice.
Captain Mats Sundin feels the improved foot speed exhibited by the 2006-07 Leafs is a primary reason why the team seems to be more competitive against the Sens during the regular season than in years past.
"We're certainly skating better as a group," Sundin said. "We were able to skate with Ottawa, which was an issue, I think, in the regular season, especially last year.
"Any time you play division teams its almost like a four-point game. You are going to play these teams a lot too, so you want to try to get into their head a little bit and establish some kind of trend that is positive. We know the success that Ottawa had against us last year.
"If we won a couple of those games, we'd be in the playoffs. We shouldn't have any problem getting up for these games.
"They have a lot of talent up front. They have a lot of guys who can score. They're a good enough team on paper, so it'll be another tough one (tomorrow)."