No Christmas fat on Leafs

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:30 PM ET

TORONTO - Five days without a game was no excuse for the Maple Leafs to dodge some heavy practising this week, as they went almost 90 minutes at the MasterCard Centre on Tuesday and lifted weights afterward.

“We were going to do this anyway, a chance to pick up our conditioning and work in battle-type situations where you have to get the job done,” coach Ron Wilson said.

Not only did Wilson criticize his offence for not driving harder to the net, whether small in stature or not, he piped up on Monday night that his defence isn’t doing a good enough job clearing sight lines for the goaltenders.

“It’s just not Nazem Kadri (who is smarting over a two-game benching) it’s guys losing battles in tight areas in the corners and around the net,” the coach said.

“We have one line that’s pretty good at it, the Mikhail Grabovski line, and that’s why they’re getting rewarded with goals.”

Grabovski has tied the team high this season with goals in his past four games.

Monster meal

Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was not going to dwell very long on one of his worst games of the season on Monday. He and his girlfriend are already planning the menu for Swedish teammates Carl Gunnarsson and Fredrik Sjostrom, who are coming for a Christmas meal.

“We’ll have all our traditions,” Gustavsson said. “It’s nice to have some Swedish foods. We have a ham, some small sausages and of course, meatballs, herring and salmon. Some of the (delicacies) are the same as here. But some of the (authentic) stuff, I don’t know where we’ll get it. Maybe we’ll go to IKEA and buy it.”

A homesick Gustavsson used to go the famous furniture store just to eat native food at their cafeteria.

Brother act

The Schenn brothers planned reunion in Los Angeles next month was ruined when the Kings recently demoted Brayden, but Luke is catching up a bit this week with his younger sibling who is here for the world junior tournament in Buffalo.

“We didn’t get together much the past few days because we were playing out West,” Luke said.

“Hopefully, I‘ll see him tonight (the exhibition game against Sweden at the ACC) and I think they have another one in Kitchener.

“But we play a lot during the actual tournament.”

Loose Leafs

The club will hold a regular practice Wednesday at the MasterCard Centre and then bus to Trinity Bellwoods Park in the West End to break in a rink that MLSEL staff helped refurbish last week. Then it’s three days off including Christmas Day, before flying to New Jersey the next morning, a rare game-day regulation. “We’re going to come back hungry,” vowed Schenn ... When missed and blocked shots were calculated along with the 40 the Leafs did put on Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec, the number added up almost to 100. But with the Thrashers up 5-1 at one stage, they simply moved back, circled the wagons and were credited with 33 blocks to 13 by the Leafs ... Schenn has more than 20,000 write-in votes for the all-star game, compared to 35,000 for Tomas Kaberle and 48,000 for Dion Phaneuf, both on the actual ballot.


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