Bell gets a wakeup call

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Paul Maurice hopes his one-on-one meeting with Brendan Bell yesterday morning has the same effect as a tete-a-tete last season when both were with the Marlies.

Maurice pulled the rookie defenceman from the lineup last night, partly to make room for winger Alex Suglobov, but also for a perceived drop in his calibre of play.

"We had a conversation like this on another ice sheet in early December, a long way from where he is today," Maurice said. "We talked then about what was he selling, what was his game? We worked on a few things like skating with the puck. He's light years ahead of where he was. But he still has to push us to the point where we won't take him out."

Maurice insisted the choice was not based solely on a miscue Saturday night that led to the eventual clinching goal by the New Jersey Devils.

Wade Belak shifted back to defence for last night.

Maurice also expressed concern that the Matt Stajan -Jeff O'Neill-Alex Steen line has fallen on hard times.

"I don't think they have two points between the three of them the past couple of games. We need them to be the difference, to feel their importance to the club."

NO PECA PANIC

New Leaf Michael Peca found it amusing that two one-goal games by Toronto's offence were being viewed by some fans as a crisis.

"God help us," Peca said in mock horror. "We're going in the dumper now.

"There is no cause for concern. We're still the fifth or six highest-scoring team in the league. We're just not working hard enough in the offensive zone, not drawing a lot of penalties. We're a team that gains confidence on the power play."

WHITER SHADE OF PALE

Goalie Jean-Sebatien Aubin had not sufficiently recovered from a nasty flu bug to back up Andrew Raycroft last night. He began feeling poorly Thursday after the Leafs' loss in Boston. By Saturday afternoon he was hooked up to intravenous.

"I feel okay, trying to stuff myself with food and get a little colour back in my face," Aubin said yesterday. "I was trying to stay away from the guys by being in the medical room, watching the game on TV."


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