By Craig Hagerman
The Toronto Maple Leafs treated their fans to another blowout Saturday night, this time hanging a 6-2 beating on Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
And with every ‘W’ the Leafs seem to chalk-up on home ice, the more the embarrassing 9-2 loss on the same Air Canada Centre ice to the Nashville Predators a week and a half ago seems to become a distant memory.
Since getting shelled by the Predators, the Leafs have gone 3-0-1, with all three of their wins coming at home. What seems to be even more impressive is the fashion in which these games have been won. The Leafs have outscored the opposition at home by a 15-5 margin with convincing wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings, and, now, the Capitals.
Much of the offense in the recent home affairs can be accredited to Tyler Bozak. The 28-year-old has seven points in his last seven games and two points in each of the team’s last three home games.
“It’s nice, the puck is following me around a little bit, I’m playing confident and my line mates are making great plays to me so hopefully it will keep going for me,” Bozak, who is having a career year, said. “It’s early in the season and I get to play with good players that help me in that category, but the most important thing is winning we’ve got to stay consistent and keep playing the way were playing.”
Bozak is currently second in the league with six power play goals, just one behind Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin. “I just try to find soft spots in the middle of the ice, obviously when you have guys out there like James van Reimsdyk, Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri and Dion Phaneuf a lot of the attention is going to be on them,” Bozak said. “So I’m just going to try and slip under the radar and get to spots where guys aren’t.”
The Leafs are now 8-6-0 at the ACC with the 18th best winning home winning percentage in the league at 0.57%. This recent success on home ice is something the Leafs are enjoying and something they are hoping will continue as they will play eight of their next 10 games in their barn. And with the World Junior Championships coming to Toronto at the end of the month, the Leafs will want to bank as many wins at home as they can as it will be hotel living when they play seven straight on the road.
The recent success on home ice is good and the fact the Leafs will be home for a while may seem like money in the bank, but coach Randy Carlyle said it’s only good to be home when the team is winning.
“The home games are great to have, but you’ve got to win them to have success,” says Carlyle. “You have to take advantage of the schedule and when the schedule sets you up with a bunch of home games you have to take advantage of it.”
The Leafs will be back on home-ice Tuesday when they welcome the underachieving Dallas Stars at, where the team will look to make it four-straight wins at the ACC.