Allison winging it

Maple Leafs' Jason Allison, trying to break free from teammate Tie Domi during practice yesterday,...

Maple Leafs' Jason Allison, trying to break free from teammate Tie Domi during practice yesterday, hopes a shift from centre to the wing will give him more ice time and help him break out of his slump. (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Jason Allison recently told Pat Quinn he would do anything to breathe life into his tenure with the team.

Quinn is prepared to take him at his word.

The Maple Leafs coach, whose intent since the season began has been to use Mats Sundin, Allison and Eric Lindros as his top three centres, indicated he very likely will put Allison on the wing tonight against the Washington Capitals with rookie centre Kyle Wellwood and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

"He has offered that he will play anywhere," Quinn said of Allison. "He wants more ice time and maybe this will give him more ice time. He has said he will play any spot."

Allison, who has not scored a goal since Oct. 15 and has just four assists in the past nine games, initially denied asking for more ice time when he sought out Quinn. But he acknowledged yesterday after practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena that he has found it difficult in the early going to find a rhythm, and figures being on the ice more will only help.

In 15 games, Allison has two goals and 10 assists and is minus-7. He has averaged 18 minutes two seconds a game, but the Leafs need him to be better at even-strength. Allison has just three assists during 5-on-5 play.

"I've felt good at times, but I'm just not getting out there sometimes for long stretches. It has kind of killed me and my confidence has been pretty bad, too," Allison said. "We talked about a week and a half ago and I was more concerned with being in the flow of games. I am a player, who, over my career, has played an average of 21, 22 minutes and I rely on my feel and my instincts and my confidence."

Allison won't get that ice time here. The Leafs' top player for a decade, captain Mats Sundin, has averaged 19 minutes 56 seconds a game for the past six seasons.

Leafs forward Nik Antropov, who has been out since Oct. 15 with a knee injury, has been cleared to return and yesterday skated with Lindros and Darcy Tucker. Alex Steen was rewarded for his consistently fine play with a promotion to a line with Sundin and Jeff O'Neill. The other threesome had Matt Stajan between Chad Kilger and Tie Domi.

Forward Mariusz Czerkawski (shoulder) has not been cleared to play. Defenceman Aki Berg missed practice with a sprained knee and there are fears he could be out two weeks or more. Wade Belak could play defence tonight or the Leafs could recall Carlo Colaiacovo or Andy Wozniewski.

KILLED PENALTIES

Allison noted that he has killed penalties before in his career, but he has been on the ice a grand total of nine minutes 45 seconds during short-handed situations for the Leafs.

"If playing the wing is going to get me in the flow I am going to play better," Allison said. "When (he and Quinn) talked, it was not an issue of going in and whining and making excuses, it was more just trying to get the best out of myself. They pay me good money and they expect good things."


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