Must win, says coach

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

With his team huddled around him at the conclusion of practice yesterday, coach Paul Maurice offered them some sound advice, words of wisdom he chose not to share with the media.

" If I wanted you guys in on it, it would have been (held) up in the stands," Maurice said of the discussion.

Maurice is aware of the importance of these back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight and tomorrow.

"Being that this is the team that is sitting in eighth, yes, these are significant (games)," he said.

"With the gap between us, there's no doubt we're going to have to win these next two games. We've got to win those games to tighten that gap and get it (down) to four points. Then we have a fighting chance in the last three-and-a-half weeks."

What problems will Philly create for the Leafs?

"(The Flyers) have two lines that cycle very well down low and their defence is very mobile," he said. "It is important that our check-offs are done well."

Captain Mats Sundin was told the Leafs need to claim victory in 11 of their final 12 games in order to reach 92 points.

"I don't know the math, I just know we have to keep winning," he said.

LOOSE LEAFS

With Vesa Toskala primed to start his 22nd consecutive game tonight, Maurice has talked to backup goalie Andrew Raycroft about his lack of action. "He knows it comes down to performance," Maurice said of Raycroft. "If it gets to the point where it doesn't make sense to keep riding (Vesa) we'll think about where to go but hopefully the games matter right to the end." ... A couple of former Maple Leafs will be taping episodes of the Gemini-nominated comedy Rent-A-Goalie this month. Both Mike Palmateer and Darryl Sittler will be guest stars in the third season of the program, which runs on Showcase. Among the other former NHLers scheduled to make appearances on the series in the upcoming year: Paul Coffey and Phil Esposito, both Hall of Famers, and pugilist Bob Probert, one of the top fighters in league history.


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