Wilson gives Leafs a break

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- More than one Maple Leaf figured that a shoddy first period Tuesday night would have ruined any chances for an off day in the sun.

Turns out Ron Wilson has a heart.

He also knows how to pick his spots to ride his developing team hard. There's also the possibility that the Sharks put on enough of a clinic that Wilson gave his team a break yesterday to recoup from a gruelling 24 hours.

"It's tough to come this far and then play back-to-back," Wilson said of what geographically is the longest trip on the schedule. "And then you play that team (the Sharks) that is all fired up. It's hard on a young team."

It didn't help that the Leafs had to play at home on Saturday night as well then wait until Sunday to fly to California.

There will be plenty of time for teaching this rebuilding Leafs squad, but Wilson is wise enough to realize that yesterday may not have been one of those occasions. The Sharks overwhelmed the Leafs in the first 10 minutes of the 5-2 win, building a 4-0 lead by the first intermission.

"We've got to learn from it, we've got to get better," Leafs centre Matt Stajan said. "It's no fun for anyone when you are down 4-0 after on (period).

BUMP

"That was a big bump in the road, but we've got to learn from it and come out (tonight) and see what we're made of."

The Leafs have a chance to claim victory on the three-game road trip with a win against the Coyotes given that a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Monday gave them a California split.

That's not the only order of business on the trip, however, as Wilson will be spending much of his time meeting with new president and general manager Brian Burke and the rest of the Leafs brass as plotting for the future gets serious.

As for the loss to the Sharks, the Leafs are hoping they can learn from the league's top team.

"It was a good test to see where we are," said goaltender Vesa Toskala, who gave up four goals on the first 12 shots he faced, though in fairness, only the first one was weak. "They got a lead on us and still, we never gave up."


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