Leafs ready to serve Avery

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

TORONTO - Forward Mike Zigomanis wants to get one thing straight: it's "tea and crumpets" not "tea and biscuits" he would serve to the NHL's No. 1 pest, Sean Avery. Zigomanis and teammate Fredrik Sjostrom were kibitzing in the Leafs dressing room after Thursday's morning skate about how best to handle the Rangers instigator during the second meeting in a week between the two teams.

"I kept being misquoted yesterday. it's tea and crumpets," Zigomanis insisted.

Avery, one of the league's best at getting under the skin of opposing players, was expected to be on his worst behaviour Thursday night against the Leafs.

When Sjostrom was pressed as to what he would serve Avery? Swedish meatballs, of course.

LOSE YOUR ILLUSION

What a difference a year makes. It was just last season that big Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was set to face his self-proclaimed hockey hero, compatriot Henrik Lundqvist, and he was nervous. This season? Not so much.

"The first time I played against Lundqvist it was fun but now it's just like any other game," Gustavsson said regarding the possibility he would be facing Lundqvist on Thursday. "He's a great goalie, one of the best ever in Sweden. I don't know if I look up to him now, though."

The outcome of Gustavsson's first meeting with Lundqvist was a 3-2 overtime victory on March 27 against the Rangers in which the Toronto netminder made 36 saves.

I GET KNOCKED DOWN ...

There's only one way to deal with defeat and that's to dust yourself off and get right back up on that horse. And that's exactly what the Maple Leafs did after dropping their first game of the season on Monday, a 2-1 overtime defeat to the New York Islanders, thereby ending hopes Toronto could go on to surpass its 1993 record-setting season of 10 straight victories to open the schedule. Forward Colby Armstrong said the team went out the next day and had its best practice of the year.

"Guys are focused and ready to go. All we can ask is that we have that same effort we've been having, the hard work, tenacious, physical play and i think it carries throughout our lineup. So, we'll get back on the horse (Thursday), that's all we can do."

WINGS AND A PRAYER

It seems to be a universally accepted opinion that the Leafs are a much speedier team than in the past. But coach Ron Wilson isn't satisfied; he says he'd like to get to the level of the Detroit Red Wings.

"Skating and moving the puck, those are two huge ingredients for any team being successful. And it's just not having foot speed, it's puck speed which is probably even more important. A team like the Detroit Red Wings, you can match up their players and you might be faster but they move the puck faster ... the game is incredibly quick when you are playing the Red Wings and we want to someday get to that spot where not only do we have great foot speed but we've got puck speed and movement to go with it."

Maybe the Leafs aren't that far off Wilson's goal. They headed into Thursday night's game with two more points and three more goals than the Wings.


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