Leafs' kids are all right

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 PM ET

Before Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, coach Ron Wilson was saying it would be very hard to pull either Marlie callup Joey Crabb or Darryl Boyce from the lineup when winger Mike Brown makes his long-awaited return from a broken index finger on Thursday in Phoenix.

No kidding. Boyce has been a catalyst for linemates Colby Armstrong and Kris Versteeg with his second goal on Monday against the Kings, while Crabb provided an excellent setup on Phil Kessel’s goal, drawing the Kings’ attention away with a rush to the net, reversing direction with a pass through the skates of two L.A. players to an open Kessel.

“Regardless of what I do every game, hitting, scoring, blocking shots, I have to contribute in some way,” Boyce said. “I try and get in front of every shot, do my little things to stay around here.

“With James Reimer in net, Crabby earning his spot on that line, we’re providing a spark. And I think the guys like having us around.”

This trip has been an eye opener for all three Marlies, who had never played in this part of the hockey world.

“It’s true what they say: ‘I love L.A.’, ” Boyce said laughing. “I don’t think too many people from Prince Edward Island get out here.

“I spent an afternoon in Santa Monica and took in some views of the city. The style of living out here is unbelievable.”

Just karma?

Rookie Sharks forward Logan Couture found out Tuesday he was chosen for the NHL young stars skills contest during all-star weekend. Perhaps it was karma that the Leafs were in town.

As a 10-year-old minor hockey prodigy from Lucan, Ont., Couture was picked to show his stuff as part of the Leafs’ skills competition at the Air Canada Centre and sit on the same bench with Mats Sundin, Curtis Joseph and Tomas Kaberle, who faced him last night. Couture stole the show with his skating and

target-shooting prowess.

“I still have that trophy in my room,” Couture said. “It has a big Leaf on it, even though the Leafs were not my team growing up (he loved the Buffalo Sabres), so it was tough. It’s great trophy, probably my best one, but I didn’t like the Leaf thing on it. A lot of my buddies are Leafs fans and they’re giving it to me that the Leafs are hot and we’re not.”

Sharks skinned

The Western Conference is very tight, but it still seems odd to see San Jose, with all its size and talent, on the wrong side of the playoff ledger.

Their goals-against has gone up about a quarter of a puck a game without Evgeni Nabokov in net, but the players and coaches insist that’s more to do with the poor play in front of new No. 1 Antero Niittymaki and former Chicago Blackhawk Cup winner Antti Niemi.

“I still believe in our team,” defenceman Dan Boyle said. “We’ve seen a work ethic the past couple of games, we’ve just come out in the short end of games.”


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