Leafs getting Boyce-trous

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 PM ET

TORONTO - Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson says his team must continue to get secondary scoring if it hopes to keep up its winning ways and sew up an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

“You need contributions from the other guys when the (Phil) Kessels and (Mikhail) Grabovskis are being marked tightly,” Wilson said after Saturday morning’s pre-game skate.

Kessel had 27 goals and Grabovski had 25 heading into last night’s contest against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. But the grinders are going to have to chip in too for the Leafs to have ultimate success.

Forward Darryl Boyce did just that on Thursday night against Philadelphia, potting the game-winner in the third period after digging the puck out of the corner and making a nifty move to put the puck past Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Boyce celebrated his success by dropping to his knees, soccer-style, and sliding across the ice. Colby Armstrong, who picked up an assist on the goal, decided to join him.

“I didn’t know what to do there,” Armstrong said of the celebration. “But it was better than standing around like an idiot.”

Stings like a bee

Thursday’s game-winner by Boyce was certainly something for the Leafs to celebrate, as was 6-foot-5 defenceman Keith Aulie’s bustup with Flyers forward Scott Hartnell.

In his first NHL fight, the Leafs rookie landed a solid right that sent the veteran Hartnell to his knees, scoring the decision and landing himself the nickname “Muhammad Aulie” in the process.

“I was looking to get into my first scrap there, but I sure didn’t think it would turn into this,” Aulie said of his new nickname.

While Aulie said he wasn’t sure that winning just one fight should garner comparisons to boxing great Muhammad Ali, calling it a “bit premature,” Armstrong thinks the new handle is pretty nifty.

“I heard the boys calling him that this morning,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “That’s pretty good, eh? I told him he shouldn’t skate today, instead he should just put on a tracksuit and jog around the city.”

Keep It simple

While Aulie’s fists seem to be getting all the attention at the moment, his solid play since being permanently called up from the Marlies after Francois Beauchemin was dealt to the Ducks for Joffrey Lupul is what really has been invaluable to the Leafs.

Coach Wilson has even credited Aulie with helping to improve the game of defensive partner Dion Phaneuf.

“I just try to be consistent,” Aulie said. “I try to make simple plays, I try to be efficient in our own end. I try to be physical. I hope whoever I play with that allows them to play to their ability as well. Definitely Dion’s been getting on the scoresheet here lately, and you know that’s what he wants to do … It’s good to see.”

It’s also good to see the Leafs have another player who can drop the gloves when need be.

Let it roll

With J-S Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson not quite getting it done in net for Toronto, the Leafs decided to roll the dice on Marlies callup James Reimer, bringing the 23-year-old goalie up in January. And there’s no doubt that since then the Leafs have been on a roll.

“If you get the goaltending that we’re getting, it glosses over any holes that you might have in your lineup,” Wilson said. “Goaltending can really build confidence. You take extra chances. It helps you score a few more goals. Your defencemen play a little bit more aggressively because they think the goaltender is going to make a big save. You’ve seen a bunch of that come together in the last two months, since the beginning of January when Reimer got here.”

The Manitoba native was sporting an excellent 12-4-3 record heading into last night’s contest.


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