Ian White took his coach by surprise yesterday.
White, who suffered a separated left shoulder against Carolina on Jan. 9, practised full-out with his teammates as they returned to the ice at Lakeshore Lions Arena.
"He is closer than I thought he would be at this point," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "I think we were looking at three weeks (before White could play), and we may still be. I did not expect him to get through practice as well as he did. He said he feels good."
White skated with the forwards to get his legs back under him. Defenceman Andy Wozniewski (shoulder) also was on the ice.
But not all of the healthy Leafs were in attendance.
Defenceman Tomas Kaberle, the lone Leaf who participated in the all-star game in Dallas on Wednesday, was given the day off. So too was Travis Green, who was picked up on waivers by the Leafs earlier this month. Green got another day to spend with his family at their home in California.
WALK THE LINE
Keeping their emotions in check will be paramount for the Leafs in the following 21/2 months, Maurice figured.
"We're after the all-star break so the sprint is on, there is no question about that," Maurice said. "We all know how big these games are. The real challenge here is that you control some of your emotions. The games will be huge.
"The key is to give yourself a fighting chance."
Jeff O'Neill had a quick answer when he was asked what the Leafs have to do to be successful in their playoff push.
"Stay out of the freaking penalty box," O'Neill said. "Penalties are an issue and our penalty-killing (28th in the National Hockey League overall, and a league-low 30th on home ice) is an issue."