Allison's tough break

Jason Allison  (Sun/Dave Abel)

Jason Allison (Sun/Dave Abel)

TERRY KOSHAN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- The Maple Leafs will have to continue their hollow charge to a playoff berth without their second-leading scorer.

X-rays yesterday in Toronto revealed Jason Allison has a broken bone in his hand, the club confirmed last night.

Though the Leafs said Allison would be out indefinitely, it is expected he will be lost for the remainder of the season, which likely is nothing more than the 11 games remaining. Also, Allison could require surgery.

"It's unfortunate for us and for Jason," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said in an e-mail. "We will miss his presence and production and rely on others to pick up the slack."

Allison suffered the injury, thought to be in his right hand, Saturday night in the third period in Montreal against the Canadiens.

HUSTLE

The post-Allison era begins tonight at the Wachovia Center against the Flyers. It's paramount the Leafs strike from the gates with the same kind of hustle they used against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, a 4-3 win.

Where did that dominant first period come from?

"I ask myself the same question," said Leafs coach Pat Quinn, who gave the players yesterday off. "In both games in Montreal we had a good jump early and got deflated fast. We have had it and not been able to sustain it, but (Sunday night), we did."

If the Leafs are to get into the playoffs, they will need to win at least nine games. That would put them at 90 points, the magic total supposedly required to qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament.

But at the same time, the Leafs would have to keep their fingers crossed the Canadiens and Devils (both with 79 points) stumble. They would have to win no more than five games each and, even if that happened, the Leafs also would hope the Atlanta Thrashers and to a lesser extent, the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, fall by the wayside.

Without Allison -- who had been out of the NHL since 2002-03 because of injuries before Ferguson signed him in August -- the Leafs will save money.

He made $1.5 million US in base salary, but there was $3 million to be had in bonuses. Allison had 60 points (17 goals and 43 assists) in 66 games. Had he reached 70 points, he would have made another $1 million. At 35 games played, a bonus of $222,222 kicked in, which rose incrementally every five games to what would have been a total of $2 million had he played 75 games. By playing 31 more games past 35, Allison made another $1.55 million, bringing his total salary to just over $3 million.

Allison was woefully slow for the faster-paced NHL and was a major defensive liability. He was minus-18, and his 70 giveaways are the most on the Leafs. Nearly two-thirds of his points -- nine goals and 30 assists -- were on power plays.

Despite the Leafs' recent woes, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock expects his club to have a test.

"(The Leafs) looked like anything but a non-playoff team (Sunday)," Hitchcock said.

"You watch them (against New Jersey)and you wonder why (they are not doing better)."


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