Leafs react to Chara hit

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

TORONTO - As it was throughout the hockey world, the topic of Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Charas devastating check on Montreal forward Max Pacioretty was the hot one in the Maple Leafs dressing room Wednesday following practice.

As a team that has seen its share of the towering defenceman, the Leafs know that Chara can hit to hurt.

It was a bad hit but I dont think it was meant to be a dirty hit, Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur said. He just went in there really hard. Hes such a big guy out there that when he hits a guy, its a lot more painful than when I hit someone.

Forward Phil Kessel, a former teammate of Charas in Boston, said the big man is not a cheapshot artist.

Hes a great guy and a great teammate, Kessel said. I think its an unfortunate situation with the glass there. Obviously hes probably the strongest guy in the league and hes just going to overpower you.

Its unfortunate where it happened, Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. But I didnt think it was a dirty play. Chara is the strongest player in the league by far.

ROOKIE MOMENTS

While scoring the first goal of his NHL career was the highlight of the night for rookie Leafs defenceman Keith Aulie on Tuesday, the confidence he has gained from the coaching staff is even more impressive.

Aulie was on the ice for a whopping 37 shifts and more than 22 minutes in the 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.

Its a good feeling knowing they want you out there in key situations, Aulie said. It makes recovery that much more important. You have to be focussed to play that much every night.

As for the goal, Aulie said he got some predictable good-natured ribbing from his teammates.

Maybe the boys were giving it to me saying it was about time I got one, Aulie said. Ive had a few good chances so it was nice to get one.

Ive been focussing so much on the defensive part that I havent got rolling offensively. Its not a huge part of my game, but I do like to chip in.

FLYING HIGH?

The Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 4-1 win over the Oilers but Philly captain Chris Pronger wasnt pleased with the effort.

The veteran defenceman ripped into his team afterward in an attempt to avoid a second consecutive loss to the Leafs Thursday at the Air Canada Centre.

I would say (we played) 23, 24 good minutes the way we need to play to be successful, Pronger said. We played a team that had a lot of injuries and a lot of youth and we were able to capitalize on some chances early.

BENCH-WARMERS

With Brett Lebda and Mike Komisarek struggling, Wilson leaned on his other four defenceman more than usual on Tuesday. The coach would rather split up the ice time more, but doles it out based on what he sees that night.

The young guys on defence are playing really well, Wilson said. I would like some people to play a little bit better on the back end, so we dont have to kill people.

If someone is struggling in a game, thats my responsibility.

The player doesnt want that to happen, but if bad things are happening on the ice, youve got to rely on the other guys. If the goalie is struggling, you pull the goalie. If its a defenceman thats struggling, then he gets less ice time as the game goes on.


Videos

Photos