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Maple Leafs find ways to rebound

Canadian Press

11/5/2006 1:13:19 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CP) - It's one month into the NHL season and Paul Maurice's Toronto Maple Leafs are showing an appealing trait that may prove valuable as they try to grind out a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

They play their best hockey just when it seems the most unlikely.

"We've really responded after a couple of our down games this season," said Leafs GM John Ferguson.

Beaten 4-1 on opening night by Ottawa, the Leafs hammered their Ontario rivals 6-0 the next game. Embarassed by the same Senators in a home-and-home series Oct. 26-28, Toronto responded with its best game of the year in a 5-4 shootout win at Montreal last Saturday night.
And this week, following a lacklustre 4-2 loss against lowly Florida, the Leafs probably surprised their owns fans by handing the first-place Buffalo Sabres their first regulation loss of the season, 4-1 at the HSBC Center.

"It didn't matter if (the game) was in Buffalo or Timbuktu, we needed the win," said Leafs winger Darcy Tucker, who scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season Saturday night.

"I think we're not letting each other get too far ahead of each other, whether down or up," added Tucker. "Guys were pretty down after the Florida game the other night. We just said to ourselves, `We gotta come in here, if we play really well we get ourselves back on track.'

Way to bounce back. I have to admit, they're doing much better this year than last year.

That win over Buffalo --in Buffalo-- is huge. I hope it carries over into their next game. They'll be facing the Flyers tomorrow night, with a slight possibility of Pavel Kubina returning.

Jeff O'Neill and Matt Stajan seemed to have some very good chemisty going on the 2nd line. No matter who they've been playing with, just keeping those two together has been making it a solid line. They complement each other well.

O'Neill especially. He's seeming to have a much better year right now. He didn't come flying out of the gate like last year, and still doesn't completely have that "drive" like he did on Carolina, but little by little he seems to be improving on the ice.

As for Paul Maurice:

I can't say that he's been doing a bad job behind the Toronto bench. Unlike last season this team has been showing some emotion, and I hope it continues.
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