Wilson wants Bozak to relax

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

TORONTO - In some ways, Tyler Bozak wishes he was a kid again, burying every puck that landed on his stick.

The way it has been lately for the second-year Leaf, even an empty net isn’t a gimme as Bozak has just six points in 22 games this season.

“The chances that I probably would never have missed in previous years playing hockey, I’m missing right now,” Bozak said following Monday’s practice at the MasterCard Centre. “It gets in your mind, but you’ve just got to stay focussed and get out of it.”

To do that, Bozak will have to do that on a different looking line from the one he is used to. On Monday, he found himself alongside Kris Versteeg and Freddie Sjostrom on the de facto third line.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson is hoping that removing the pressure to perform alongside Phil Kessel, who has been his linemate most of the season, will help Bozak return to the form that saw him amass 27 points in 37 games last year.

“Bozie’s just got to relax a little bit,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “I think every time during a game I’ve slipped him into what you might say is a third line, he usually plays a little more relaxed and a little better. I just want him to relax to get back to playing his game.”

A point of emphasis at Monday’s practice was to get players to go harder to the net, a broken record over the past three seasons for Wilson and his staff.

“It’s cliche, but you’ve got to get pucks and people to the net,” Sjostrom said. “That’s how other teams are scoring and we’ve got to start doing it too.

“(Versteeg and Bozak) are really skilled. Me, with my speed, I should just go hard to the net all the time to help create some better scoring chances.”

In another development Monday, the Leafs sent forward Luca Caputi back to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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