Net gain is Leafs' goal is

MIKE ZEISBERGER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Just what is Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice really trying to say when he states that his goaltenders have brought their "B-games" to the rink lately?

B as in basic?

Or brutal?

Either way, it is obvious that Maurice is not satisfied with the recent performances of goalies J-S Aubin and Andrew Raycroft.

Entering play yesterday, only the Philadelphia Flyers (139) and Los Angeles Kings (136) had allowed more goals than the 130 given up by the Leafs, a glaring stat for a team attempting to claw its way to a playoff berth.

Aubin, who spent seven years with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, gets the call tonight when the Leafs meet Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the Igloo.

"If (Aubin) does well, we'll lean on him a bit more," Maurice said yesterday. "If Andrew catches fire, he'll carry the ball."

Maurice has hinted along these lines for several weeks, but has managed to avoid publicly uttering the phrase "goalie controversy." He just wants one of his netminders to take advantage of the situation, get hot and steal the odd game, something that has not occurred this season.

"It's a good rotation," Maurice said. "(Still) I think we've been getting two B-games, not A-games."

That's A-games as in awesome, amazing and all-star calibre.

The same A-game that Aubin will need to lug to the Mellon Arena if the Leafs are to have any hope of thwarting Pittsburgh's Glitter Twins, Crosby and Malkin.

As of yesterday, Sid The Kid led the NHL scoring race with 55 points while Malkin The Magnificent topped all rookie scorers with 34 points.

"The biggest challenge is how much space you allow them out on the ice," Maurice said. "They are going to have times in which they get loose but you just have to try to limit those (opportunities). If they do, you have to come down the ice hard the other way and make them play defence."

With their best defensive forward, Michael Peca, out of the lineup for an estimated three months after undergoing surgery on his broken right leg, the Leafs will have an even more difficult time smothering the Pens' dynamic duo.

"They are great exciting players who skate fast and are good shooters," Aubin said. "You just have to go minute by minute, shift by shift. They are (outstanding), sure, but they are not the only team with a pair of great players."

Aubin, Pittsburgh's second choice in the 1995 entry draft, still owns a home there where he resides each off-season.

"It will be good to see a lot of my friends," Aubin said.


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