The Maple Leafs are riding a four-game winning streak and feeling rather good about themselves, but apparently, that is nothing new.
"The mood the whole year has been really positive," forward Jeff O'Neill said after a quick practice yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena. "We have a group here that really gets along with each other and we enjoy our company."
It helps that the Leafs will shoot for a season-high fifth win in a row tomorrow night in St. Louis against the Blues, a match that will represent their first visit to Missouri since Nov. 9, 2002. But what's more encouraging for the Leafs -- who won two of three before the all-star break, giving them six wins in their past seven matches, is that they are getting it done without three of their better performers in Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca and Kyle Wellwood. Those three would not necessarily play together, but they represent one solid line missing from the roster because of injuries.
"We've just had the attitude that we have no choice and we can't dwell on the guys who are not in the lineup," said O'Neill, whose 18 goals are one fewer than he had all of last season. "Every line is different with the skill level, but every line is on the same page as far as the plan goes. We have a group confidence now. We know what is going to happen out there. It is a good feeling when you go into games and know everyone is prepared and is going to play well."
The Leafs were planning to get together for a Super Bowl party last night, and at least one of them might have had the urge to pull aside Mats Sundin and tell him what he means to the team. As the debate continues of whether Sundin should be traded before the Feb. 27 deadline (it appears slim that that will happen), the value of the captain in the dressing room was measured by John Pohl.
Many of the Marlies callups the past two seasons have stepped in and contributed and Pohl said it is partly