Halfway evaluations

MIKE ZEISBERGER AND ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

When evaluating the Maple Leafs at the halfway mark of the season, one aspect stands out.

The goaltending has not been up to snuff.

Starter Vesa Toskala is not satisfied with a goals-against average in the 3.30 range and a save percentage significantly below .900. Neither, for that matter, are team officials.

Defensively, the team has been inconsistent on the blue line. Rookie Luke Schenn has made the normal first-year mistakes but has been a force at times and has an encouraging future. Tomas Kaberle has not been at his best, but could fetch a nice return at the trade deadline if he waives his no-trade clause. Jeff Finger might be overpaid but has been steady, when healthy. Health has also been an issue for sidelined blue-liner Mike Van Ryn.

Up front, Matt Stajan and rookie Mikhail Grabovski have been pleasant surprises while Nik Hagman has been a useful cog. Nik Antropov might be shipped out by the deadline, but it will be more difficult to move linemate Alexei Ponikarovsky. Newcomer Lee Stempniak has struggled to find the net. The jury remains out on prospect Nikolai Kulemin.

Behind the bench, Ron Wilson's gutsy decisions to bench key people has brought accountability to the dressing room.

NIK OF TIME

The Leafs recalled Kulemin from the AHL Marlies yesterday.

In 40 games with the Maple Leafs this season, Kulemin registered 14 points (seven goals, seven assists), eight penalty minutes and averaged 13:55 of ice time. He went scoreless in three games for the Marlies after his assignment to the AHL on Jan. 7.

Kulemin likely will step in for the suspended Grabovski, who still has three games to serve.

Injured defenceman Finger, meanwhile, is expected to be examined today for an upper body ailment.

MAY MEETS MOORE

If Brad May was expecting any awkwardness in meeting his new teammate Dominic Moore, the new Leaf didn't get any. May was a teammate of Todd Bertuzzi in Vancouver when the latter attacked Moore's brother Steve, ending his NHL career.

"There's no subject in my mind at all," May said following Saturday's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. "It was a nice meeting. He came up to me and welcomed me to the team. He's a gentleman.

"He recognizes I'm a local guy as he is and it was nice."


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