October 7, 2010
EASY DOES IT
As much as the new-look Maple Leafs are champing at the bit to get the 2010-11 season under way, coach Ron Wilson is preaching a little caution.
In last year's opener -- a 4-3 loss to Montreal, the Leafs came out a little too fired up which led to sloppiness, penalties and some defensive zone breakdowns.
"We have to bottle the emotion the right way," Wilson said on Wednesday. "Not get too excited to play and not have guys who are over-amped for their first game of the season and their first game as a Leaf."
One of the big culprits last year was defenceman Mike Komisarek, who found himself accumulating 15 minutes in penalties.
"The big picture is that the team needs me to be a big, reliable defenceman," said Komisarek, who is recovered from shoulder surgery but hasn't played in a regular-season game since Jan. 2. "I'm not going to get in there and try to win a Stanley Cup on opening night. Like (Wilson) said, I don't want to go out and get the Gordie Howe hat trick on one shift."
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
Like many of his teammates, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is looking for a fresh start in Toronto. And among his goals is to improve offensively.
"I definitely want to be a better season offensively," Phaneuf said. "I didn't put up numbers that I was happy with at all."
As a rookie with the Calgary Flames, Phaneuf was a 20-goal scorer (with 29 assists) leading to speculation that one day he would be a serious Norris Trophy candidate. In 2007-08, he piled up 60 points but in his split season with the Leafs and Flames last year he slipped to 12 goals and 20 assists.
Former Anaheim Duck Mike Brown has never seen the kind of attention heaped on a team as the Leafs get at home. There were nearly 20 media in attendance before Wednesday's practice began in Etobicoke.
"As bad as people think it is, I think it's good for the players to stay on their toes," Brown said. "You have to play hard every time or you're going to hear about it."
Brown sees his fourth line left wing role as very uncomplicated.
"It's energy, physical play, wearing down their guys, being there when we need a grind shift or just going out there and banging," said the Chicago native. We (himself, Colton Orr and Mike Zigomanis) are going to get pucks to the net, drive the net and if need be, drop the gloves. If we score, that would be a bonus."
The Leafs got down to their 23-man roster by putting defenceman Matt Lashoff on waivers on Wednesday. If he goes unclaimed, Lashoff will be assigned to the Marlies ... Likely scratches for opening night will be C John Mitchell and defencemen Brett Lebda and Jeff Finger, who are all recovering from injuries... Wilson was not going to get excited about reports that Montreal goalie Carey Price is under the weather. "To me it's irrelevent about who plays goal for the other team. Any time you say: 'Oh boy. we're lucky they're missing Mike Cammelleri and possibly Price, you set yourself up for failure. I don't believe Price will play 82 games, so Montreal will figure a way to win when he's not in net." ... The Leafs are keeping tomorrow's ceremonial faceoff plans a secret, but the Luke's Troops salute to the Canadian Forces continues, recognizing Sgt. Damon DeFreitas, a veteran of Bosnia and the Middle East. The group Arkells will perform in the Maple Leaf Square tail gate party.