Penalties a pain to GM

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The Maple Leafs have yet to adjust to the change in the weather where officiating is concerned.

After a pleasant mid-November stretch in which they were handed just 12 penalty-killing tasks in three games and won all three games, the Leafs steadily have regressed to the point of being short 11 times against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, resulting in six power-play goals.

Coach Pat Quinn wasn't the only one griping yesterday, as general manager John Ferguson expressed concern at both team discipline and a perceived inconsistency in the way games are handled.

"With the standards, there's a range obviously," Ferguson said. "Argue if you will, some of the sticks on the hands and the one-handed slap (part of 14 total stick-related calls on Saturday). You almost think if you drop your stick now if it gets slapped, it's almost like diving.

"There are those (referees) who ring you up at the first touch, sometimes it requires a little bit of an impediment to the other person and sometimes it's just enough to reach out with the stick.

"When you put your stick on someone, you're putting yourself in a position to be called, so that's nothing new. We're 30-plus games in here, and we need to do a better job."

Quinn believes his team made a strong commitment to change and that the club's recent problems are linked to the interpretation of standards. But wary of another league fine, he stopped himself from debating the subject in public yesterday. "Please ... I don't have enough (bleeping) money," he said.

MARIUSZ MAKES HIS MARK

The second most relieved person after Mariusz Czerkawski scored his first goal in eight games as a Leaf on Saturday was Ferguson, who signed him as a free agent in the summer.

"The chances around the net are what you like to see," Ferguson said. "He could have had two (goals)."

Tonight, Czerkawski will be facing his former team, the New York Islanders. If the Leafs lose and fall into ninth place in the conference, it would be their first tumble out of the playoff picture since Oct. 20, 2003, caused by a loss to the Isles. Czerkawski had New York's winning goal that night.


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