No let up from Maurice

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

First came the sprints between the blue lines. Then the nets were brought about 10 feet in front of each crease and the skating continued around the perimeter of the rink.

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice a while ago had pegged yesterday as a conditioning day for his players, and there was going to be a hard skate no matter how much success they have been enjoying lately.

The Leafs, who have won seven of their past eight, did not touch pucks for the final 30 minutes of practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena. Maurice did little else than stand at centre ice and blow his whistle intermittently.

"That's the hardest practice we have had since training camp," defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "It's an opportunity to get our conditioning up and we have not had a chance to do that because of our schedule."

With their next match on Thursday in Boston, the Leafs will have today off.

"We hate going through (the long skating drills) but it's good to work the body a little harder," Michael Peca said. "We can rest (today) and have a couple of effective practices (tomorrow and Wednesday).

"It's the right way to do it. We get the bulk of two days to rest our bodies and spend some time with our families."

NO LETTER REQUIRED

Maurice agreed with the suggestion that Peca can be thought of as a guy who is a captain without a C.

Not to take anything away from the player who does, Mats Sundin.

"You have people that show leadership in certain areas, and it is the roles on the ice that can build leadership," Maurice said. "Mats is going out on the power play when we need (a goal) and Mike is going out when we can't give one up."

BRIEFLY

The Leafs' win at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night against Montreal was their first in four home games versus Northeast Division foes after a pair of losses to Ottawa and one in a shootout to the Habs ... Forward Chad Kilger is two games away from 600 for his career.


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