From bruised ego to points leader, Matt Stajan has run both ends of the emotional spectrum this season.
The Maple Leafs centre leads the team in scoring with 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in 18 games. Just over five weeks ago, Stajan was a healthy scratch against the St. Louis Blues, one of the gob-smacking moves made by new coach Ron Wilson.
But Stajan sat just one game, and though he was without a point in the three that came immediately afterward, has been on a tear since. The 24-year-old has at least one point in 11 of the Leafs' past 13 games, centring a line with Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky on the wings -- in essence taking the place of former captain Mats Sundin.
"When you are contributing in scoring and you are put in a role to do that, your confidence goes up, no doubt about it," Stajan said. "I'm sure it's a little different for (Antropov and Ponikarovsky). Maybe Mats would shoot the puck more and obviously he has a bigger body. We're just clicking right now."
When Wilson was asked about Stajan's production, he pointed to more power-play time for the Mississauga native as a main factor. But though Stajan's three power-play goals equal half of his total from the previous four years combined, he has just three assists with the man advantage. Eleven of Stajan's points have been at even-strength.
"He has played harder, competed harder, been a lot more determined and it has brought out his talent," Wilson said. "He is a lot more intense out there and that intensity has allowed his talent to shine through."
Before he was moved to forward by Wilson a few weeks ago against the Carolina Hurricanes, Ian White figured he played just a single shift up front during his junior days in Swift Current of the Western Hockey League.
"I scored 10 seconds in or something like that, and that was the only shift I had," White said. "I don't know. I guess I was just flying under the radar."
White has seven points in eight games after sitting out the Leafs' first 11 matches.