Vacation over for Leafs

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

The Maple Leafs' body clocks are out of whack this week.

They came from a trip in the American south, which included two wins in three games and some Floridian perks such as beach volleyball, and returned home to sub-zero temperatures and a pair of losses. They've also been subject to three full practice days, as their mini-slump coincides with one of their longer breaks in the National Hockey League schedule.

"It was different," forward Matt Stajan said of keeping busy during this week's layoff. "And next week we have four days off (between Monday's game against Anaheim and Saturday's tilt in Ottawa).

"Then the second half of our season is going to be crazy. We won't see a stretch off like this until after the Olympic break. But we can't show any rust and get off to any slow starts. We saw what happened (Tuesday night) against Los Angeles.

"It was nice to be in Florida and Tampa for a few days. The weather was awesome. You come back and it's cold and now the snow is here, but I like it. It's more of a hockey feel. It would be tough to play in a warm climate all year."

KAZAKH COUSINS

Nik Antropov no longer is the NHL's lone player from Kazakhstan. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov's return to the Russian league from the San Jose Sharks had marooned the Leafs winger, but goalie Vitaly Kolesnik was summoned this week by the Colorado Avalanche and won his first start.

"I feel good for him, because he was the third goaltender on our junior team back home," Antropov said. "We (Kolesnik, Nabokov and himself) all come from the same city (Ust-Kamenogorsk)."

LOOSE LEAFS

With coach Pat Quinn in Philadelphia yesterday at Team Canada meetings, assistants Rick Ley and Keith Acton conducted practice. The Leafs ended a 45-minute workout with a shootout tournament, not a bad idea when they're 0-3 in such tie-breaking games ... If he starts tonight against Dallas, Ed Belfour will be facing an old team for the second consecutive game. He won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999. "I'll never forget that, it was a dream come true," Belfour said. "Hopefully I'll get a chance to do that in Toronto."


Videos

Photos