December 8, 2010
Leafs 'chipping away' on the road
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - PITTSBURGH - The road woes of the Maple Leafs have been well documented this season, a big reason the team has slipped to the bottom of the NHL standings.
But with a win here Wednesday night against the league-leading Penguins, the Leafs could finish off a rare road run it’s difficult to imagine any other team matching.
Should the Leafs follow up on their 4-3 win at the Consol Energy Center in October, they would have a combined 3-1 road record against the Penguins and their running mates atop the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals.
Not only that, the Leafs would claim seven of a possible eight points against the two NHL powerhouses.
The Leafs aren’t looking at it in those terms as they try to extyend a modest two-game win streak. Both of those wins - against Boston and Washington no less - required comeback wins.
“We have to keep chipping away,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “We’re not going to win a game and get eight points because we’re playing Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got to try to get one or two points and go from there.”
A win over the Penguins won’t exactly come easy, of course. The Penguins are clearly the hottest team in the league right now and with an 11th consecutive win would hit the second-longest winning streak in team history.
And then there’s Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who is on a 16-game point streak and playing arguably the best hockey of his career.
“I think you try to play to your strengths so a 2-1 game is probably more in our benefit than a 7-6 game,” said Leafs checking centre Tim Brent, who likely will spend significant time trying to shut down Crosby on Wednesday.
Rookie defenceman Keith Aulie will likely see significant time against Crosby as well.
“I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Aulie said. “Going into a game against Sidney Crosby an the Pittsburgh Penguins when they are on a big winning streak.
Jonas Gustavsson will be in the net for the Leafs with J-S Giguere returning as backup after missing a game with a minor groin injury.
The Penguins, meanwhile, will be without injured sniper Evgeni Malkin.
While Pittsburgh got off to a slow start to this season, there were a number of games they felt they should have one, including that contest against the Leafs. Toronto managed four goals on 14 shots that night.