Khavanov: Blues will recover

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

As difficult as the adjustment to the Maple Leafs has been for Alexander Khavanov, he knows he could be a lot worse off in St. Louis.

The Blues have lost 11 in a row, and their major pro sports record of 25 consecutive seasons in the playoffs is in jeopardy.

"I try not to make judgements about things when I don't know what's going on there," said Khavanov, who was lured to the Leafs this summer by former boss John Ferguson. "But I'm watching and I know they're not doing very well. I know the players and the coaches and I know they will turn it around.

"What was always the big thing (there) was that when the big guys weren't able to play, there was always someone stepping up. In my second or third year there, they had five goalies and they still kept winning. It's up to the guys who are there now to step it up and expect more from themselves. They will find a way."

IN PRAISE OF COURNOYER

One of the first Leafs to congratulate Yvan Cournoyer on the retirement of his No. 12 Saturday was Darcy Tucker, who was the final player to wear that number with the Habs before it was deactivated in 1997.

"He was one of the coaches here and he taught me about sacrifice and the willingness to win," said Tucker, who stood 5-foot-10 to Cournoyer's 5-7. "He wanted everyone around himto be successful. I got to know him, got to go to some autograph sessions with him and I got to drive him to the airport. That was special to see that number go up."

PONY EXPRESS

Alexei Ponikarovsky has five goals, more than half of his total from the most recent NHL season. Two have been short-handed, giving him the team lead in that department.

"He scored (Saturday), he was dangerous, plus he can check," coach Pat Quinn said of his efforts against Montreal. "Here's a guy with really solid tools to play this game. Part of getting to be better is understanding what you have as an athlete and using it."

Quinn hinted that he'll use the big Ukrainian more often with Eric Lindros this week.

BRIEFLY

Forward Kyle Wellwood got so little ice time in the penalty-filled first period Saturday that he went on the exercise bike to stay loose during intermission.


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