Pohl, linemates reap rewards

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- When John Pohl scored against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, a row of his supporters jumped up at the St. Pete Times Forum and cheered.

On the Leafs bench, it's probable coach Paul Maurice pumped his fist for Pohl as well.

The line of Pohl between Boyd Devereaux and Bates Battaglia had been creating a lot of chances in recent games but was not having success scoring. Pohl, who got his seventh goal of the season in the win against the Lightning, has been performing with the kind of confidence Maurice was hoping to see.

There were some eyebrows raised when Pohl, then unproven, was signed to a one-way contract by Leafs general manager John Ferguson last year.

"I don't want to just be a roster-filler, I want to contribute," Pohl said. "I want to be a guy that others say to, 'That was a big goal and we're glad you got it.' "

Maurice likes the hustle that Pohl, Devereaux and Battaglia bring and believes no other Leafs line skates as well as that trio.

"They do so many fundamentally good things," Maurice said. "They do not allow a lot of turnovers, they forecheck. If the puck does not go into the net, you are going to start saying, 'Yeah, they are doing a lot of good things, but they just can't score,' and you break them up. They have to have some success with what they are doing to stay where they are."

The Leafs, who have won two in a row just once in the past month, will attempt to do so tonight against the Florida Panthers.

Darcy Tucker is inching toward a decision as to whether he will return from a foot injury or shut himself down until after the all-star break. Tucker did not look out of place at practice yesterday and took part in full drills, at times skating on a line with Travis Green and Chad Kilger.

"I will see what the swelling is like (this morning)," Tucker said. "We're at a crossroads here."

Meanwhile, Maurice likes Pohl on the power play.

"He will take the puck to the net on the goal line," Maurice said. "It has been a struggle to get Kyle (Wellwood) to do it, and Jeff (O'Neill) doesn't do it."

As for Pohl's supporters in Tampa, one was his uncle, Tom Pohl, who was wearing his nephew's sweater from the University of Minnesota. Tom Pohl is from Kansas City but lives in the Tampa area.

"I've had family at six games this year and I think I have scored in almost every one," Pohl said.

"It's funny, and kind of cool, too. I should have them move to Toronto."


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