Flyers know Toronto could be tough site

Updated: May 6, 2004, 2:53 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Maple Leafs forward Alexander Mogilny has a new stick and renewed attitude.

"I'm smiling. Real happy," he said after practice Tuesday. "Everything's great."

That's a significant change from what happened after Toronto's last game, a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. The loss put the Leafs down 2-0 in their best-of-seven second-round playoff series, which resumes in Toronto on Wednesday.

As the game ended, and after he squandered two scoring opportunities in the final five minutes, Mogilny was spotted snapping his stick.

"No frustration," Mogilny said when reminded of what happened. "The stick was already broken. There's no point of bringing dead weight back to Toronto."

And that's an attitude that might go for the rest of the Maple Leafs, who need to forget the past and quickly regain their offensive touch.

The Leafs, who had the NHL's fourth-best offense in the regular season, have managed just two goals in two games against the Flyers. Mogilny banked in a shot off Philadelphia defenseman Mattias Timander's skate to score in a 3-1 loss in Game 1, and tough guy Tie Domi scored on a deflection Sunday.

"We've scored two goals in two games, you don't have to look too far for an answer," Mogilny said. "The bottom line is we've got to generate more offense. You can't win a lot of games scoring one goal a game."

That's the challenge for the banged-up squad. Owen Nolan (leg) is out; leading playoff scorer Joe Nieuwendyk (back) probably won't play for a second straight game; and captain Mats Sundin is playing with an injured left leg.

More troublesome is that Toronto's offensive woes haven't come just against Philadelphia. The Leafs managed just 14 goals in seven games to eliminate Ottawa in the opening round.

In an effort to rekindle the their offense, coach Pat Quinn had Sundin, Mogilny and Gary Roberts playing on the same line in practice.

"Obviously, our scoring hasn't been a strong part of our playoffs series," Quinn said. "We are generating chances but not finishing them off, and hopefully we'll find some scoring here someplace soon."

Quinn is also considering putting Domi on a line with Ron Francis and Chad Kilger. His hope is that Domi's presence and ability to dig in the corners will clear room for Francis' play-making skills.

The Flyers are prepared for the Leafs' best, knowing their opponents will be energized by what is generally a loud home crowd.

"They seem to play with more recklessness there in their own building, and we'll be ready for that," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Rather than looking at winning the third game, it's more getting ready for what the first period brings you."

The Flyers are leading the series because of an edge in special teams play -- both goals Sunday came with the man advantage -- and the continued stellar work of goaltender Robert Esche.

They're also getting a big assist from forward Sami Kapanen, who has been switched to playing on the blue line, filling in for injured defensemen Kim Johnsson (broken right hand) and Eric Desjardins (forearm), who is out for the playoffs.

Hitchcock upgraded Johnsson's status from doubtful to questionable for Game 3.

The Leafs hoped to apply pressure on the Flyers' banged-up defensive corps, but that hasn't worked yet.

Mogilny has been particularly impressed by Kapanen's play.

"I think, the last two games, he was the best 'D' they had," Mogilny said. "Maybe we should put one of our forwards on 'D.'"


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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