Wilson: No message

ROB LONGLEY AND TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

To no one's surprise, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson could not understand the fuss regarding his decision to get the players on the ice for an 8 a.m. practice on Friday morning in Phoenix.

"There was not really any message," said Wilson, who did not speak to reporters on Friday after the early wakeup call. "The body clock was 10 o'clock in the morning and we hardly practised all week. We needed to get our feet under us."

Well, maybe. But you can bet that if the Leafs had beaten the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, instead of losing 6-3 to them, Wilson would not have called a practice the next morning.

ALEX THE GRATE

Going into last night, Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin had been on ongoing headache for the Leafs, scoring 11 goals in 12 career games against Toronto.

"Toronto is one of my favourite stadiums," Ovechkin said after the morning skate. "I just like playing here. There is always a lot of excitement."

The Capitals were riddled with injuries, but the Leafs were claiming that they were not going to take the visitors lightly.

"Ovechkin is dangerous every time he is on the ice," Wilson said. "We will have our hands full. But if he does not have the puck, he can't score, I don't think."

Ovechkin had sloughed off a slow start and had recorded 29 points (12 goals and 17 assists) in the previous 15 games before last night.

FOOTBALL FIX

Injured Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn has interest in today's Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins game at the Rogers Centre though don't expect him to be rooting for the "home" side.

Van Ryn's wife Amber is a former Dolphins cheerleader and the two met while the Ontario native was playing for the Florida Panthers.

"We've had this game circled on the calender for a while," Van Ryn said following a workout in San Jose during the Leafs recent road trip. "We've got tickets. We'll be there."

Van Ryn has been staying fit by working out with the team but admits he still has difficulty gripping his stick after breaking a bone in his hand against Montreal last month and his return is about two weeks away.


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