No Jokinens found in shootout workout

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

The exercise was supposed to be a fun way to wrap up practice, but it looked more like detention.

Twenty sheepish Leafs skaters went back to shooting school yesterday, trying to master the game's raison d'etre -- beating the goalie one-on-one with a pack of media watching.

But with the Leafs losing three of their first four shootouts this month and 10 of 14 including last season, they tried to get back into a groove.

Each man had back-to-back chances at each end on Andrew Raycroft and Jean-Sebastien Aubin, but only a couple of players, such as centre Matt Stajan, were 2-for-2. Many gave up the direct shot for the top shelf backhand, with limited success.

Coach Paul Maurice declared his goalies the winner at the end, but was not unsympathetic to his foiled forwards and defencemen.

"It's something we had to work at, but we have to keep in mind that it has nothing to do with (maintaining strong) 5-on-5 play," Maurice said. "We want to have fun, but not at the expense of work ethic."

Maurice, who is wary of his goalies getting hurt in a prolonged or unsupervised shootout practice, reiterated he had done everything possible to turn the odds in his team's favour, from altering the order to compiling a highlight video of last year's successful NHL shootouts.

He doesn't have Dallas Stars ace Jussi Jokinen to call on, but sees no reason not to keep trotting out players such as Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker, the club's top scorers.

Raycroft has plenty of sympathy for those who were blanked yesterday.

"You can have the greatest move going in your head, but if that puck jumps on you, you're done," Raycroft said.

Wade Belak, with his seven career goals in 339 games, joked he was waiting for Maurice to see the light and insert him.

"If he looks down the bench, I'm ready," Belak said, saying he works on a special move with Aubin all the time and has a post-goal celebration ready, too.


Videos

Photos