TORONTO - Coach Ron Wilson has thought about the idea of putting defenceman Dion Phaneuf in front of the net during Maple Leafs power plays on a regular basis.
“He is pretty good at deflecting pucks and things like that,” Wilson said. “You have a skill for it, and we will try to put you in a position to use it.”
The Leafs captain leads the team with 36 shots on goal, two more than Phil Kessel. Phaneuf directed 18 shots at the New York Rangers’ net on Saturday night, but has had trouble actually finding the net more often than not.
“Sometimes all these shots are a waste of time, especially if there is no traffic in front of the net,” Wilson said.
“I don’t know many guys who can cleanly beat a goalie in our league with a clean shot from the point. I think we lead the league in percentage of shots blocked.”
The Leafs’ power play is sputtering along at 11.9%.
Phaneuf did not speak to reporters after practice on Monday, saying he had to attend a meeting.
Kris Versteeg was asked about the booing that occurred during a 2-0 loss against the New York Rangers on Saturday night, and the fact that Leafs Nation is getting impatient with the lack of scoring.
Versteeg, in his answer, took a shot at the media.
“We don’t really care or listen to what you guys think or say,” Versteeg said. “It is more about that we care about each other in here and take care of each other in here. We need to hold together and be a great team ... now it is about giving our fans something to cheer about.”
Versteeg said his back is feeling better. He missed the game against Boston last week because his back was sore.
“It’s good,” Versteeg said. “You go on the ice and block it out and try to play your game and for me it’s fine.”
Versteeg has one goal in nine games with the Leafs. He had 20 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks last season after scoring 22 in 2008-09.
Wilson wouldn’t say whether Jean-Sebastien Giguere or Jonas Gustavsson would start on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. The Leafs will leave immediately after the game for Washington, where they will play Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on Wednesday. It’s likely that Leafs fans will see both Giguere and Gustavsson in the next couple of days.
“No plans (to reveal),” Wilson said. “But there will be a goalie in goal.”
DUKE IT OUT
Having identified March 5 as the date for his return to Toronto when his Blackhawks meet the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, ex-Leaf Viktor Stalberg jokingly said that he could go fist city with Leafs centre Tyler Bozak, his former roommate.
“I might have to pick a fight with Bozak,” Stalberg said with a laugh. “He tells people he’s tougher than me.
“I don’t think he’ll do it though.”
Over to you, Tyler.
OUT TO DUKES
The Leafs sent centre Mike Zigomanis, who had one assist in eight games this season, to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Zigomanis, a Toronto native, was averaging six minutes 58 seconds of ice time a game with the Leafs.