Steen's numbers don't add up

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Questions continue to swirl regarding where captain Mats Sundin best fits into the Maple Leafs lineup.

But shouldn't the same be asked of fellow Swede Alexander Steen?

Management is just glad to have Sundin back after the veteran forward missed seven games with a slightly torn ligament in his right elbow.

A more pressing issue revolves around Steen, whose offensive woes are a concern for team officials heading into the second leg of back-to-back games versus the Boston Bruins tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre.

While Steen has being given a stronger defensive role by coach Paul Maurice this season, he still is expected to provide more pop than just one goal in 25 games.

Maurice's frustrations with Steen were reflected in the third period of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Bruins. Steen was benched for the final 20 minutes.

"We were down, we needed goals and he hasn't provided enough," Maurice said of the second-year forward.

Steen's goal-scoring drought reached 19 games in the Bruins loss, a head-scratching dilemma for a kid who lit up the league for 18 goals a year ago. His only goal of the season came on Oct. 14 against the Calgary Flames.

Who could have ever predicted that Steen would have fewer goals approaching the one-third mark of the season than light-scoring defenceman Hal Gill, who has two on the year and just 22 in his nine-year career?

"Our scoring depth has been good but there's always room for more," general manager John Ferguson said last night via email. "He has already demonstrated he is capable at this level (including top 10 in rookie scoring last year)."

The captain notched his ninth of the season Saturday.

Maurice wanted to have Sundin slowly creep back into action and started him between fourth liners John Pohl and Chad Kilger. But with his team down two goals early on, the captain found himself on a number of different units including one that featured his familiar wingers, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovksy.

As for suggestions that Sundin's return may have upset the chemistry of a team that went 4-2-1 in his absence, the captain rolled his eyes.

"We did all right before I got hurt, too," Sundin said. "We had a pretty good record (before the elbow injury).

"We didn't have a good game. Was it because I was back in the lineup? I'm not going to say that."


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