February 13, 2007
Plenty of potential points
By And while his pesky back spasms have improved since then, the Maple Leafs forward isn't out of the woods yet.

The next six games very well could help determine the Maple Leafs season.

And coach Paul Maurice knows it.

Each of the Leafs' next half-dozen encounters will be against teams that are even with, or below, the Leafs in the standings.

In other words, they are games the team should win.

The Edmonton Oilers, the Leafs' opponent on Saturday, have 60 points, the same number as Toronto. The Leafs also will face the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers twice and Boston once in that span.

"Obviously one point against the Islanders doesn't put us in (the playoffs)," Maurice said. The Leafs kick off this six-game run by hosting the Isles tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

BLAKE'S TAKE

Jason Blake said yesterday he still wants to be a New York Islander.

At the same time, the veteran forward admitted that he has been thinking too much about a potential contract extension and now will leave those issues to his agent.

All the while, he plans on concentrating solely on his on-ice performance beginning with his team's game tonight against the Maple Leafs.

Blake, who becomes an unrestricted free agent over the summer, told Newsday over the weekend that the Isles should consider dealing him if the two sides could not come to a long-term agreement by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

According to the newspaper, Blake, 33, is seeking a five-year deal likely worth about $18 million US.

Blake has 27 goals and 21 assists this season.

LOOSE LEAFS

Forward Darcy Tucker still is using crutches to get around, but hopes to resume skating within a week. His permanent cast was replaced by a soft boot over the weekend ... The punch by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Ronald Petrovicky that caused Kris Newbury's head to smack on the ice on Saturday has stoked the issue of the need for fighting in the game again. "I don't mind it," Maurice said. "I think where we need to be careful as a sport are the ones that are not spontaneous." As for Newbury, Maurice said: "There is no need to feel sorry for Kris. He's a tough kid."


CANOE.CA SLAM!