March 23, 2010
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
IN THE DARK
Either he's genuinely unimpressed or he hasn't been following the Maple Leafs play lately. Whatever the case, Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer is looking forward to a trip north as his team attempts to keep its playoff hopes on life support.
"We're still in the hunt," Deboer said of his team, which trails the Boston Bruins by seven points for the final Eastern Conference spot. "It starts with this trip through Canada and I think winnable games."
Leafs coach Ron Wilson says one of the keys to the impact of winger Nikolai Kulemin and his role on the first line is his ability to harness his strength productively.
"He has learned how to use his body," Wilson said. "On a European rink that's 15-feet wider, there's not as much physical contact where you are wrestling with a defenceman. That's something you have to learn to excel in, the tight spaces.
"(Kulemin) has the body to do that and now the experience. He knows how to protect the puck and separate himself from a defender by using his incredible strength."
Forward Luca Caputi was back at practice after a rough weekend that saw him sidelined with the flu. Caputi woke up ill on Saturday and was sent home prior to the team's pre-game skate prior to that night's game against the Montreal Canadiens ... The Leafs had a rare ACC practice on Monday. The occasion? The team's annual picture day ... After a two-day break -- the first since the Olympics -- the Leafs head into another busy stretch with four games the next six nights. It starts with a Tuesday home date against Florida before moving on to the Atlanta Thrashers, back home to face the Rangers on Saturday then on to Pittsburgh for a date with the Penguins on Sunday.