Coach has no crashers

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

The group Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn has to work with is not quite like the same he has had in the past.

Without naming him, Quinn appeared to lament the loss of Gary Roberts, who signed with the Florida Panthers in the summer.

"We are not a crashing team anymore," Quinn said. "Some of the guys who used to do that for us are elsewhere now. You can finish checks and that is what we need to develop more of with the guys who are in our uniforms."

This also is a younger team than Quinn has employed in the past, with rookies Alex Steen, Kyle Wellwood, Carlo Colaiacovo and Staffan Kronwall and sophomore Matt Stajan getting a fair share of ice time.

"Youth is one of those things ... we have a lot of lovely players who can make lovely plays, but at the end of the night sometimes they are not doing things that winners do," Quinn said.

Have some of the Leafs' younger players hit the wall?

"That is possible," he said. "This is their first crack at this level. Like all guys coming in, you have to learn more and more about yourself all the time and how to get ready. It is a hell of a challenge for an athlete when they have not been in it before. That is a part of growing and a part of maturity.

"You like to think every kid who comes in is tough and ready to handle everything, but just down the hall you see a young team (the Ottawa Senators) that has come along and now they are starting to get to a point where it looks like they are starting to get through the challenges."

Wellwood, who scored last night for the first time in 15 games, acknowledged his adjustment phase remains in place.

"I am pretty happy with my playmaking, but my shot is not good enough and there are some things I have to work on," said Wellwood, who has 25 points in 47 games. "Working at a new level, there are a lot of things to get used to."

THAT'S TOO BAD

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips said his team couldn't take much time to worry about whether Quinn was on thin ice, even though the Sens have had a direct impact on the Leafs' recent woes.

"It's a non-issue for us," Phillips said. "We're just trying to win games and it's out of our control."


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