Tucker, Leeb and the refs take spotlight

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

One player wants to raise his profile with the Maple Leafs, the other wants to change his.

Together, Brad Leeb and Darcy Tucker combined for four goals yesterday in the Blue and White game at the Ricoh Coliseum, the Leafs' final scrimmage tuneup before their NHL exhibition schedule begins tonight against the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre.

It was also a chance to test new league rules in a game situation with four officials on the ice. Eighteen minors were called, including a high stick on saintly captain Mats Sundin in overtime.

"There's definitely calls out there where you wondered: 'What happened?' " said Sundin, who went on to score the only goal of the shootout in the Blues' 5-4 win. "But we'll see (tonight) when it's a more physical game, how the penalties add up."

Leeb, a winger, scored the first and last goal for the Blues. After falling off of the Leafs' radar a couple of years ago, he has put in some productive time on the farm.

"Three years ago, we thought Leeb might have a chance as a smaller guy coming in," head coach Pat Quinn said. "Clearly, he hasn't given up on his dream of playing in the NHL."

Leeb is a perfect example of a player who could benefit from less obstruction. He also had the edge of playing in the lockout year -- 32 points in 51 games for St. John's.

"There will be a lot more (exhibition games) going forward and hopefully I get in a few of those," Leeb said. "You have to wait for your opportunity and if the door is open a little bit, hopefully you play well."

Tucker brought the sellout crowd of 8,295 to its feet with his first goal, faking a deke before snapping the puck under J.F. Racine's crossbar. Throughout camp, Tucker still has had a bit of his wild streak, but has not gone overboard.

"People have a perception of me and it's up to me to change that perception," Tucker said of the 'Sideshow Bob' image he detests. "I play a lot of shinny in a relaxed atmosphere and I want to bring that into my everyday game. So what if you don't score? It's not the end of the world. Just try and do your best."

In a crowd-pleasing move, the starting lineups featured new Leafs Eric Lindros, Jason Allison and Jeff O'Neill, top camp rookies Alex Steen and Staffan Kronwall as well as old favourites Sundin, Ed Belfour, Tucker and Bryan McCabe. Lindros received a huge ovation and engineered his own goal with both strength and smarts.

Aside from the predictable confusion on the calls, there was a lot for Quinn and general manager John Ferguson to like yesterday.

Quinn also singled out AHL forward Mike Hoffman, Steen (looking good on Sundin's right wing), defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo's two-way play (despite back-to-back penalties) and Kronwall.

"Not just because he scored two, but because he made things happen," Quinn said.

Sundin, Clarke Wilm and Martin Sagat had the other goals in regulation time. Justin Pogge, beaten by Tucker on the first shot he faced, stopped O'Neill, Mariusz Czerkawski and Allison in the shooutout.


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