No day off for Fletch

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Yesterday might have been a day off for the Maple Leafs but interim general manager Cliff Fletcher was keeping busy.

Fletcher spent yesterday in St. Catharines scouting the Ontario Hockey League game between the Niagara IceDogs and Peterborough Petes. "I just wanted to come and have a look at a couple of the top defencemen in the draft," Fletcher said. The Ice Dogs have Alex Pietrangelo while Peterborough's Zach Bogosian has become an offensive threat on an otherwise ordinary Petes' club.

Meanwhile, Fletcher said that while he's been pleased to see the Leafs' play improve over the past month it hasn't changed his mind about the need to make major changes this off-season.

"I'm finding out different things on different players. The thing that hasn't changed is my feeling that we have to go forward and make changes in the future. I'm happy going into (Saturday) night that we were 9-3-1 the last 13 games. Some of the younger players were showing improvement and that's a good sign," he said. "But the bottom line is we need to take the Leafs to a higher level in the off-season."

SPINNING THEIR WHEELS

The Leafs reverted to a habit of slow starts Saturday when they fell behind 3-1. The Leafs have been outscored 73-49 in the first period this season and have scored the game's first goal in only 33 of their 73 games. The lack of urgency has cost them games like Saturday's loss to Buffalo. "It didn't seem as if we were as determined as we need to be (Saturday). We were a little slow and a half second behind," said defenceman Ian White. "These two points were critical and we let them slide away."

MISSING LINKS

With Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov questionable, the Leafs may go into tomorrow's game on Long Island with a No. 1 line that includes Alex Steen between Jason Blake and Jiri Tlusty -- a top line that has totalled just 32 goals.

The second line would see Mark Bell and Darcy Tucker beside Matt Stajan, a combo that has scored 31 goals.

Not exactly offensive numbers for a team destined for the playoffs.

NO X-RAY VISION

Carlo Colaiacovo was uncertain whether he'd have to join Sundin (groin) and Antropov (knee) on the sidelines for tomorrow's game. He hurt his knee in the second period of Saturday's game but was able to continue playing. There was some speculation Sabres' Drew Stafford should've been called for slew-footing him but Colaiacovo was uncertain because he never saw the hit coming. "It was from behind. I was setting myself up for a pass and I didn't see him. I'm banged up but we'll see how it reacts."


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