Power shortage a concern
Lance Hornby, QMI Agency
|Phil Kessel celebrates his 81st goal as a Leaf with teammate Joffrey Lupul. Kessel scored the goal against the Vancouver Canucks at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. (Jack Boland, QMI Agency)
Toronto has lost four of its past five games and in that span, has enjoyed more than two power-play chances in a game just once. On Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, it dwindled to one man-advantage for the first time this season. It has meant that coach Ron Wilson has had to keep the Eastern Conference’s best power play in the garage for much of the game.
Joffrey Lupul has 13 power-play points himself.
When volunteering the topic after Sunday’s practice, Wilson could have been trying to gain the sympathy of some officials to call more fouls against his fast skating team. But the coach made it plain his men must try harder on offence to get those favourable rulings.
“It’s another concern of mine, why we’re not drawing more penalties, getting one or two a game,” Wilson said. “We often score, go 1-for-2, 1-for-1. But I’d like to see us work hard enough to draw five or six penalties on any given night.”
In the first seven games, the Leafs had a minimum of four chances a night.
Uneasy lies the crown
The Los Angeles Kings, who fired coach Terry Murray last week and are about to replace interim John Stevens with Darryl Sutter, are no strangers to bench upheaval going right back to 1967.
The Leafs tried to block Red Kelly from retiring to take the job with the expansion team to force the Kings to give them a player.
This is the ninth time the Kings have made a change during the season and the third time that three coaches will have been used in the same year. Rogie Vachon was called upon three times in interim roles and Wilson’s uncle Johnny Wilson once worked the bench in 1969-70.
Eight of their former coaches had or would have Leafs connections; Kelly, Ron Stewart, Bob Pulford, Larry Regan, Roger Neilson, Pat Quinn, Mike Murphy and Barry Melrose.
Burrows says merci
Passing through Toronto for his team’s only game this season, Canucks winger Alex Burrows gave a shout-out to his former Team Canada ball hockey coach, North York’s George Gortsos.
“He helped me when I needed it most, gave me a chance,” said Burrows, who was at a crossroads in the early 2000s after coming out of the QMJHL without a team. Burrows was named international ball hockey player of the year in 2005 to sustain his career. “Tell George that my goal (Burrows’ game winner against the Leafs) was for him.”
Gortsos remains active as a coach and player in the national program and has been helping Toronto’s Withrow Park Knights prepare for the 2012 World Masters ball hockey championhips next autumn in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
No. 81 now has 81 goals as a Leaf. Phil Kessel reached the milestone on Saturday, which also tied him for 66th in team history with Gaye Stewart, Jim McKenny and Al Iafrate. Next on the list is Gary Roberts at 83 ... Saturday also marked the second time this season that first liners Kessel, Lupul and Tyler Bozak all scored in the same game, though they’re to be split up on Monday ... Rookie D Jake Gardiner is averaging 20:41 of ice time a night.