Leafs a work in progress

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

When Brian Burke becomes general manager of the Maple Leafs -- the "if" factor appears to be lessening by the day -- it will be interesting to see what happens with goaltender Vesa Toskala.

Though it might be likely that Toskala won't be going anywhere, the Finnish goalie is going to have to start pulling up his socks if the Leafs have any chance of remaining a surprise and don't slide into oblivion.

The Boston Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead last night at the Air Canada Centre midway through the first period and wound up skating off the ice with a 3-2 victory, the 11th time in 13 games they have secured at least one point at the ACC since the lockout ended in 2005.

As for Burke, no talks of consequence have taken place between his lawyer, Peter Gall, and Gordon Kirke, who is the point man on negotiations from the Leafs' end. A source said last night that though permission has been given by the Leafs to talk to Burke, internal discussions within the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. hierarchy have to take place before the Leafs go to Burke with contract ideas or an offer.

"There is nothing imminent, I can tell you that," MLSEL president Richard Peddie said. "Gord and I have agreed that we will not be discussing the process or any candidates publicly."

There might not be an announcement just around the corner, but the path is being laid to finally hire Burke as general manager of the Leafs. At the least, the thinking is Burke will be looking for a pact that is five years in length and gives him full autonomy in the hockey department. Burke could command a salary that pays him as much as $4 million US a season. A formal offer could come in the next couple of days, if not by the end of the week. Burke has been the Leafs' No. 1 choice for months to succeed Cliff Fletcher and he became available a few days ago when he stepped down as GM of the Anaheim Ducks.

Even from afar, Burke has to be wondering what's going on with Toskala, who allowed a horribly weak goal to Phil Kessel as the Bruins went up 1-0. And after a flurry of opportunities by the Leafs during the second period when they rang the posts a few times and Tim Thomas made a couple of unbelievable saves, Michael Ryder, on one of the Bruins' few forays into the Leafs zone, ripped a wrist shot over Toskala's glove hand. Put plainly, Toskala, who continues to say he feels good in net, was not there when his teammates needed him.

CAN'T COMPLAIN

"The first goal was stoppable, but beyond that, I can't complain about our compete level," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "We need to get (Toskala) to where he needs to be. He has to realize he has not played well."

Jason Blake and Mikhail Grabovski, who leads NHL rookies with nine goals, scored for Toronto.

It was the ninth time the Leafs have found themselves in a 2-0 deficit, or worse. Forget for a moment that this team won't give up and works hard and everything else that Wilson is trying to emphasize. Jumping into a hole in the first place is a problem that Wilson and his staff have to meet head on.

But it's just as possible the general lack of talent is showing through. The Leafs have not been outshot in 15 games yet have won just six of those contests. What was that again about this club scoring lots of goals?

"It's tough when you get down one goal or two goals," defenceman Tomas Kaberle said. "It kind of kills you a little bit. We don't want to do that every game. We want to get the lead and we have to be way smarter in the first period."


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