Czerkawski sits and stews

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Mariusz Czerkawski is growing restless, waiting for a chance to help the Leafs end a seven-game losing streak.

"Frustrating, very frustrating," the winger said yesterday in reference to sitting all but one game during the slide, when he went pointless in a 5-3 loss in Colorado on Jan. 17. "But you just have to keep your mind cool and hopefully your chance will come. Otherwise, you'll be pretty miserable."

The Leafs lost 8-4 to Buffalo on Thursday, their goal production actually marking a 10-game high. But that doesn't mean they don't need a scorer. That is what Czerkawski supposedly brought to the table this year, but has just four goals in 17 games.

"If I didn't think I could help the team, I wouldn't be here," he maintained. "But it's tough to show something when you sit in the stands."

Czerkawski was on a line with Jason Allison and Alexei Ponikarovsky yesterday, leaving him hopeful of a chance. But someone will have to sit if winger Darcy Tucker returns.

SUNDIN STAYS THE COURSE

Mats Sundin agrees that this month has been one of the biggest tests of his leadership ability.

But even though a movie montage of inspirational words and deeds was played on the ACC video board before the game Thursday -- from Patton to John Belushi's Bluto rant in Animal House -- Sundin was not going over the top.

"It's easy to go insane and make strange decisions," the captain said. "But that's not going to do anything for you. That's the biggest thing with our team; keeping our minds on the ice."

Not the easiest task in hockey-mad Toronto.

"It's easy to start worrying about other things -- should we change this or that and what's going to happen. You end up worrying about things that you can't control."

VISITORS WELCOME

Coach Pat Quinn said there was nothing ominous about Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment execs visiting his office Thursday after the game. Chairman Larry Tanenbaum and president Richard Peddie stopped by. "They do it often, come in and discuss things, the good and the bad," Quinn said. "It's all about team and they're part of our team."


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