Vesa keeping busy in net

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Vesa Toskala's backup with the Maple Leafs this season, Curtis Joseph, is a significant upgrade over last season's, Andrew Raycroft.

But that doesn't mean the Finnish starting netminder wants to play any fewer games than he did last season, when he appeared in 66 for the Leafs.

"Obviously, I want to play a lot," Toskala said yesterday, following an informal workout at Lakeshore Lions Arena with a group of his teammates. "I think I play better when I'm playing all the time. But I think that's how everybody is. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and play at the same level as last year."

HAPPY IN ROLE

Fortunately for Toskala, and new Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, Joseph has said that he is perfectly happy accepting a backup role, so there shouldn't be any dissension within the club's goaltending ranks this season.

Toskala and Joseph are just getting to know each other and -- hockey players being hockey players -- yesterday proclaimed that the other is "a great guy." If Attila the Hun played hockey, he'd probably be a great guy.

In any event, Wilson can take comfort in the fact that Toskala is healthy and ready to start the season. Last year, he put up good numbers for the Leafs, a team that missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, with a 2.74 goals against average and .904 save percentage.

Joseph, in the nine games he played with the Calgary Flames, posted a .906 save percentage and a 2.55 GAA. Raycroft's numbers were a less-than-stellar .876 and 3.92.

Add Joseph's arrival with the fact that Wilson plans to tighten the club's defence, and there may be a lot fewer goals scored against Toronto this season. Which is good, because the rebuilding Leafs do not look like a team capable of scoring goals by the bushel.

"We need to cut down on quality scoring chances," Toskala said. "If we can cut down those, that would be the biggest help."

One thing the good-natured Finn said he has noticed thus far in the club's workouts at Lakeshore Lions, is the pace.

"I can already see that we're going to be much faster. I think that's what we've added the most," Toskala said. "We've also added some defensive-minded defencemen. But we have to come together as a group pretty fast because we only have two days together (at training camp next weekend) before our first exhibition game (Sept. 22 versus the Buffalo Sabres).


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