Leafs' power play a work in progress

LANCE HORNBY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

The Maple Leafs have rolled out a welcome mat for visiting power plays, complete with a big No. 30 to mark their last-place standing among home team penalty killing in the National Hockey League.

With the express intent of yanking it from under the skates of the Montreal Canadiens tonight, the Leafs turned over much of yesterday's practice to try and fix the problem.

WORKING AT IT

"We spent more time on it today than we have in a long time and we'll continue that," coach Paul Maurice vowed yesterday. "It's tough to work on it (simulating) game conditions, because you have to shoot the puck a ton and you don't want guys blocking those kinds of shots in practice. Guaranteed, you'll have someone get a broken bone."

Defenceman Hal Gill, whose pre-season pledge to become better on special teams is taking a beating as the team's kill rate falls to 78.5%, repeated the team's lament about undisciplined calls as the root cause.

"We take too many and when you play the good teams, they'll find a way to adapt and beat you with more guys out there than you," he said.

"(When short) we have to make sure we're blocking more shots. It's a thankless job, but if it takes getting down and eating one (in the facial area or the tender lower extremities) or getting killed in the corner or whatever, we have to do what it takes.

"It has been tough lately, but we have the guys in here to put it together. I take a lot of pride in penalty killing and it's tough when it doesn't go right. I've had some bad breaks and at times we force too much where less is more. But we have to find a way to make it work."


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