Vinny getting excited

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

There was no need to remind Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier that we are one year out from the Vancouver Olympics.

Like most of the leading candidates for Team Canada, the Lightning star is excited about representing his country in what he said will feel like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final every time the team hits the ice.

"Obviously it's going to be special playing for Canada and there's definitely going to be lots of expectations to win," Lecavalier said yesterday.

"There will be pressure to win, but you go through that with any Team Canada. We go there to win gold. We go there for second or third place. That's the goal."

Bad Math

Even though it is clearly the weakest division in the Eastern Conference (by total points), the Leafs have struggled against Southeast Division foes.

Prior to last night's meeting against the Lightning, the Leafs had an awful 3-7-4 record against teams from the Southeast, while they are 7-3-1 vs. the Atlantic Division and 6-7-2 against the tough Atlantic.

Old and new

The Lighting have been using an interesting line lately involving three Toronto-area players. Veteran Gary Roberts, the ex Leaf, is old enough to be the father of both Steve Downie and rookie Steven Stamkos, but the veteran's influence has rubbed off on the youngsters.

"I've learned a lot from Gary," said Downie, who was a healthy scratch last night. "Just watching him you can't help but learn. He's a tremendous person on and off the ice."

Williams clears waivers

Winger Jeremy Williams was cleared to return to the AHL's Marlies after no other NHL team claimed him off of waivers by noon yesterday.

"He's got to continue to improve and become a more complete player," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "Unfortunately to this point he seems to lack consistency but that happens to a lot of younger players.

"Hopefully he's humbled a little bit and he goes down (to the Marlies) and works hard.

"Go down there and score but round out the other parts of his game too." Also yesterday, the Leafs put another pair of Marlies on waivers giving Boyd Devereaux and Bates Battaglia a chance to be picked up by another team.

Loose Leafs

The Lighting have used a league high 43 players this season as they desperately try to find a winning formula ... Lecavalier seemed relieved that talk involving him being traded has turned quiet. "It's pretty much died down," said Lecavalier, who was the subject of rumours around the all-star break. "I'm just focusing on what I have to do here. I haven't really heard anything since. If something does happen, (management) told me they would come to me first but I'm very happy I'm here." ... Prior to last night's four-goal outburst in the first period, the Lightning had scored just nine goals in its previous six games and had a 1-4-1 record in that stretch.


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