Leafs biding time on lineup

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

If the Maple Leafs intend to look outside the current roster to halt a seven-game losing streak, they'll have to act in the next seven days or wait until Dec. 27.

The National Hockey League's holiday roster freeze begins at midnight local time on Dec. 19 and embargoes all trades, waivers moves and any other player assignments other than call-ups. The Leafs play four times up to Dec. 19 and three times after that, including Boxing Day.

"Other than being well aware of the deadline, we are not letting it drive any hockey decisions," general manager John Ferguson said yesterday.

He had hinted at possible promotions from the Marlies at the start of the weekend but coach Paul Maurice indicated on Sunday that the short-term plan was to try and clean the mess up from within. Ferguson said yesterday he had not taken a more active role in lineup selection as the slump continues.

"Paul and I discuss all aspects of our lineup, the guys who have played and those who haven't," Ferguson said.

At practice yesterday, talk wasn't centred upon losing seven in a row and the sky falling as much as being at .500 and where many believed they'd be anyway. If asked in the summer would they be content to see their new-look team at 13-13-5 in December and tied with Ottawa, most fans probably would have accepted that.

"We're back where we started the season," captain Mats Sundin said. "There's no reason we can't get back to playing where we were earlier in the year. But saying that, we need to play better than we have."

Coach Paul Maurice believes he has taken the correct approach in dealing with his team's sudden dive.

"We've pushed them harder, squeezed them harder and now we have a team that expects good things to happen," he said. "We're exactly where we were on opening night."


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