Clean slate for Leafs in Philly

Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (L), Tyler Bozak, captain Dion Phaneuf (C), Nazim Kadri and...

Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (L), Tyler Bozak, captain Dion Phaneuf (C), Nazim Kadri and Phil Kessel celebrate Kadri's game-winning goal during the third period of their pre-season NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa September 29, 2010. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

TORONTO - Tyler Bozak -- and a few other Maple Leafs -- can get a clean slate with Ron Wilson by getting dirty in Philadelphia.

Wilson was back in the first line centre's corner on Friday after benching Bozak most of the third period of Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Coach Wilson urged the Leafs to make up for two days of scoring woes by driving harder to the net, something the lean six-foot Bozak admits is not his always his specialty.

Toronto, 4-1-1, with both losses at home this week, heads to Philly to meet the Flyers on Saturday night.

“I think we have to get to the front of the net more,” Bozak agreed after practice, during which he was re-installed as top line centre with Kris Versteeg and Phil Kessel. “Personally, I’ve been trying to go there on the power play and whatnot. It’s never been something I’ve done; I’ve always been a kind of half-wall guy (near the boards).

“It’s taken a little adjusting, but I’m the guy who should be in front and Phil is the guy who is shooting. We just have to try and get more traffic.”

After turning down media requests for post-game comments, the second-year NHLer was more understanding on Friday of Wilson’s benching tactic.

“Sometimes it’s a good way to get a message through.” Bozak said. “I don’t think a lot us played too well and (New York) kind of took it to us. I was the guy who learned the lesson last night and we’ll come back hard tomorrow.

“We just have to work as a whole line. We weren’t supporting each other a lot, got clogged up trying to make the pretty play, not the plays we’re capable of making and maybe turned the puck over too much.”

Wilson said Bozak was out of sorts because he’s still suffering some hearing loss from a puck in the ear last Sunday in practice.

“You don’t keep throwing someone out there if their line isn’t clicking or they’re not feeling well,” Wilson said.

“I’m confident he’ll bounce right back.“

The move worked for the Leafs as far as Versteeg playing well at centre and winger Colby Armstrong scoring when promoted from third line to second.

“You skip over people sometimes to send a message,” Wilson said. “Sometimes the guy you don’t play, it’s not his fault, it’s the other two on the line not doing a good job. That whole line wasn’t skating very well.”

Jean-Sebastien Giguere gets the start in goal against the Flyers, who have wasted a chunk of a five-game homestand and lost Thursday to Anaheim, 3-2. The slow-starting Flyers are 2-3-1, coming off an appearance in the Stanley Cup final loss against Versteeg and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“There shouldn’t be a hangover, we should be even hungrier,” centre Danny Briere told the Toronto Sun in a phone interview. “For some reason, we thrive when the pressure is on us (making last year’s playoff on the last day of the schedule and rebounding from a 3-0 series deficit to Boston). But if we could do it (easier) we would.”


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