For sake of Blake

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

Jason Blake has the rifle and Leafs coach Ron Wilson wants him to use it.

Blake, who led the Leafs in shots on goal last season, was held to just seven during the team's first three contests. And he had just one assist in those games, prompting a change in line assignment, or, as some might term it, a demotion.

Blake started last night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with rugged forwards John Mitchell and Jamal Mayers, the idea being that the pair could clear some space for the smaller left winger.

"What Jason hasn't done is shoot the puck as much as in the past," coach Wilson said. "He had (302) last year and he's got seven. He should be leading our team. Hopefully, he gets a little more room."

Blake, who had 25 goals last season, says he's in good shape. He has taken some big hits so far and been able to maintain puck control down low.

MUST DO BETTER

"It feels as though there's a guy on me all the time," Blake said. "I haven't played as well as I could. We haven't done as good a job as forwards as we can do."

If anyone had a chance at success against the Pens, it was Blake, who entered last night with 47 points in 46 games against Pittsburgh, including 24 goals, two of them game-winners as a Leaf.

Blake has been separated from regular centre Matt Stajan, who entered the game with three of Toronto's eight goals.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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