February 18, 2012
Maple Leafs seek Vancouver support
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
The west has hardly been best if you are a Toronto Maple Leaf.
In fact, trips through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, while serving as a reinforcement of just how many Leaf fans there are throughout the country, have been a disaster for the won-lost record of the Toronto franchise in the past decade.
On Tuesday night, the Leafs dropped a 5-1 decision at the Calgary Saddledome, a House of Horrors where they have not won a game since Dec. 27, 2002.
Sure, a 4-3 overtime win in Edmonton on Wednesday provided the team with some confidence, especially since it snapped the club out of a four-game losing skid.
But now comes another reality check, one that once again is dominated by gloom and doom.
On Saturday in Vancouver, the Leafs will take to the ice at the Rogers Arena against a Vancouver Canucks team that has, frankly, owned them.
The Leafs have dropped nine consecutive decisions to the Canucks, a string of futility that dates back almost nine years. Since losing to the Leafs 2-1 back on Nov. 24, 2003, the Canucks have outscored Toronto 38-19 en route to beating the Leafs nine times.
It will be a difficult task for the Leafs this time around, too. The Canucks are 8-0-2 in their past 10 and 18-4-2 in their past 24.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has been outstanding in that time. After struggling through a slow start to the season, Luongo has a 1.95 goals-against average in the past three months.
It should be an electric atmosphere at Rogers Arena, where the several thousand leather-lunged Leaf fans will certainly rub the Vancouver supporters the wrong way. As the Canucks' Alex Burrows pointed out earlier this season, he grew up hating the Leafs, adding that a lot of Vancouver fans feel the same way.
Luongo and James Reimer will be the starting goalies while Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn, who was a healthy scratch in the victory over the Oilers, is slated to be put back into the lineup.
Asked about the Leafs recent woes versus Vancouver, coach Ron Wilson said his team is not concerned with history.
“We have a lot of new players who were not a part of that,” WIlson said. “We’re just concerned with this game.”
As well they should be.