JOHNNY OUT OF SPOT
With 14 healthy forwards, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson didn't have John Mitchell and Wayne Primeau on set lines during practice on Wednesday. Rickard Wallin, who has dressed for one of the past eight games, centred a trio that included Jason Blake and Lee Stempniak. Another line consisted of Jay Rosehill, Jamal Mayers and Colton Orr.
Though Wilson cautioned against reading too much into the lines, Mitchell did anyway.
"When you are not in the lineup from a line point of view, a message is being sent that you have to play better, it's as simple as that," Mitchell said.
Mitchell had 12 goals and 17 assists in 76 games as a rookie last season. In 33 games in 2009-10, he has three goals and eight assists.
"It has been frustrating, a disappointing season for everyone for not being in the playoff hunt right now and not being a good team as of late," Mitchell said. "This is definitely a learning experience. Hopefully I will be better off for it later in my career."
GET PHIL GOING
Wilson and struggling forward Phil Kessel skated slowly together for several laps around the ice as practice started, undoubtedly discussing Kessel's woes. Bearing down has been a problem for Kessel, who leads the NHL in shots on goal since Nov. 3, when he came back from a shoulder injury. Kessel has 189 shots on goal, but has put just 15 into the back of the net.