An energy saver for Leafs

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:41 PM ET

TORONTO - NEWARK, N.J. — For the better part of the past month, the Leafs have scrapped the traditional game-day skate, in part to preserve energy for the playoff push and in part because coach Ron Wilson thinks they are generally a waste of time.

“There’s some other (teams that) try to do the same things,” Wilson said. “It’s always met with resistance (by the players) because at the end of the day, it’s more about guys being superstitious than anything else.

“If I was playing today and all the times you put your stuff on and take it off throughout the course of the year, I think it’s almost a waste of time. It’s just a ritual.”

One player who has rarely participated all season is captain Dion Phaneuf, who leads the team with an average of 25 minutes and 13 seconds ice time.

“Guys like Dion haven’t really gone on the ice all year because he’s going to play a lot and he needs to save his energy,” Wilson said.

Phil the thrill

When Phil Kessel scored his 30th against Ottawa this past Saturday, he became one of just six players under the age of 23 to hit that mark three seasons in a row since the 2004-05 lockout. The others: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal and Bobby Ryan.

Kessel also became the fourth Maple Leaf to score 30 goals in each of his first-two seasons with the club, joining Ed Olczyk, Wendel Clark and Daniel Marois in that category.

thirty somethings

With 29 goals and just two games remaining, it’s a good bet that the Leafs were going to feed Mikhail Grabovski rather generously as the season winds down in the hopes that he joins Nik Kulemin and Kessel in the 50-goal club.

The previous time the Leafs had three 30-goal scorers was in 1995-96 when Mike Gartner (35), Mats Sundin (33) and Doug Gilmour (32) hit the mark.

“I think guys will be looking for him but I don’t know that he needs it,” Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said. “I’d love to see him get it. Since I’ve been here, he’s been great every game.”

fill out your bracket

With three Leafs prospects in the NCAA Frozen Four this weekend in St. Paul, Minn., Leafs TV will carry all the action beginning with Thursday’s semifinal games between Notre Dame-Minnesota-Duluth (5 p.m.) and Michigan-North Dakota (8:30 p.m.).

The highlight for Leafs fans will be North Dakota’s Matt Frattin, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player. His teammate, Andrew MacWilliam, is also a Leafs prospect as is Michigan’s Ben Winnett.

Saturday’s championship game will be shown on a tape delay at 10 p.m.

loose leafs

The Leafs have a good little battle for the team’s leading scorer heading into the final two games. Kessel and Clarke MacArthur are tied at the top with 62 each followed by Grabovski (58) and Kulemin (57) ... A couple of interesting stats for the Leafs: Prior to Wednesday they were 20-6-11 in one-goal games and

24-16-8 when outshooting the opposition ... Defenceman Mike Komisarek hopes to build on a better end to his season than a beginning by competing for Team USA at the world championship in Slovakia later this month ... Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Leafs were tied with the second most points (42) since the all-star break based on their 18-7-6 record. San Jose (22-4-3) was the frontrunner with 47 points.


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