Work in Sports
Room to improve
Toronto knows it will take better effort to win Game 2
Posted: Friday April 28, 2000 07:18 PM
TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are not kidding themselves. They know they will have to play much better Saturday than they did in Game 1 if they expect to beat the New Jersey Devils again in the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals.
"We'll have to change some of the things we're doing or we won't be competitive enough to win," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said Friday.
Quinn particularly wants to see more speed from his forwards and a more effective transition breakout after the Devils controlled most of the play through two periods in Toronto's 2-1 victory Thursday night.
It was a game the Maple Leafs consider themselves fortunate to have won, thanks to Curtis Joseph's goaltending, and the fact the Devils rang four shots off the goal post.
"They are a team that is hard to play against," Leafs forward Sergei Berezin said. "They are playing a trap [defense] and that makes you look slow. You try to skate but they're always in your face. We have to move the puck better."
The Devils, convinced they deserve to be ahead in the series, have thrown out the Game 1 result.
"In the playoffs, if you are the better team and you lose, it's hard to take," New Jersey center Bobby Holik said. "All you can do is regroup. We don't want to do too many things differently than we did [in Game 1]. But there's definitely room where we can improve. Our whole game was good -- but not good enough."
Quinn kept his regulars off the ice Friday. They worked out on stationary bikes in their Air Canada Centre gym.
The Devils were forced to practice at St. Michael's College because the Air Canada Centre was being converted for a concert by Placido Domingo.
"It was important for us to go out and have some fun," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "It was a small rink and it brought back memories for guys. It was the kind of neat to do that. It was the first time all season we got dressed and got on a bus to go practices.
"The attitude of the team is relaxed, but I'm sure the tension will pick up as we prepare on game day."
He kidded that the Devils will arrange to rent a rink in Atlantic City, for the Leafs when the they head to New Jersey for Games 3 and 4.
The Maple Leafs are 5-0-1 in their last six meetings against the Devils, dating to the 1998-99 season. And Toronto continues to win despite being outshot in the playoffs. Opponents have outshot the Leafs in all five Toronto victories this postseason.
Thursday, the Devils outshot the Leafs 33-21.
"That was a feeling-out process to find out what each team is going to bring to the table," said Toronto forward Steve Thomas, coughing with a cold. "I think you're going to see a lot better in the games coming up."
Thomas, who scored six goals in the six-game series against Ottawa in the first round, didn't get a shot on Brodeur in Game 1.
"I didn't play that well," Thomas admitted. "I didn't really have the jump that I expected to have but I expect to be better and I expect to get more opportunities to score."
Devils coach Larry Robinson had defensemen Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski on the ice most of the times the Thomas-Mats Sundin-Jonas Hoglund line was out, and Stevens and Rafalski got the job done.
"Scottie is a competitor," Thomas said of the Devils' captain. "He'll run you any opportunity he gets. I admire the way he competes."
Sundin managed only one shot on Brodeur.
"We want to try and dictate the pace more," Sundin said. "New Jersey got kind of the game they wanted [Thursday]. We were very happy with the win but, at the same time, we know that we have to play better in Game 2."