Quinn drills home point

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

When Jason Allison arrived for practice yesterday, it was as though he could have drawn up the drills himself.

About 14 hours after the Maple Leafs skated off the ice in Boston following a 2-1 loss to the Bruins, coach Pat Quinn put his club through its defensive paces at the Air Canada Centre.

"He has every right to not be happy about (the Leafs' defensive play) because it has been costing us leads," Allison said. "We play great and then just get real sloppy. I don't know if it is adjusting to the rules and new players or what, but we just have to be better. Excuses are done with."

Performing well without the puck has been something Quinn has been trying to get his players to do since he took over as coach prior to the 1998-99 season. Or more to the point, to become more adept at defensive-zone coverage.

"From time to time we do okay, but really not good enough for the guys who have been around this long," Quinn said. "It shouldn't be (that way). Position is the key and you are allowed to have inside position (with the new rules in effect). We are letting people go to that scoring area too easily."

Quinn said there likely would be line changes tonight, and though the Darcy Tucker-Allison-Jeff O'Neill trio has combined for 27 points in 10 games, it became a lightning-rod for another reason. Allison has a team-low minus-7 rating while Tucker is minus-6 and O'Neill is minus-5. By comparison, the Leafs' Kid Line of Matt Stajan, Kyle Wellwood and Alex Steen is plus-3 across the board.

Tucker is not worried.

"We've had three games and we can play better," Tucker said. "We have not been good five-on-five. I don't think we have scored a five-on-five goal in the past five games. I think we are sitting around and waiting for the power play to show up.

"We have all been reliable players in the past. Three games ago we were the toast of the town."

If Quinn wants his veterans to turn it around, perhaps he could show them game tape of Stajan, Wellwood and Steen.

"Right now (the kids) are paying attention to the fundamentals that we talk about in practice every day, and somehow our veterans aren't paying much attention to that," Quinn said.


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