Schenn: 'We have to compete hard'
TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
|Toronto Maple Leafs Luke Schenn and Montreal Canadiens Travis Moen during 2nd period NHL hockey action at the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto on Jan 21, 2012. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
That scrap that occurred between Maple Leafs Joey Crabb and Carl Gunnarsson during practice on Sunday?
Defenceman Luke Schenn wants to see that grit carry over into Monday night’s home game versus the New York Islanders.
“Without question,” Schenn said after the morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. “Maybe it is something other guys in the locker room see and it can translate to the game.
"It comes down to winning one-on-one battles and not being outworked, we have to compete hard.”
The Leafs, losers of four of their past five games, will have to be physical against young Islanders star John Tavares. With 21 points (eight goals and 13 assists) in his past 12 games, the Oakville resident is riding the longest point streak in the NHL this season.
Tavares’ production is a large reason why the Islanders have won four of their past five games.
“I approach it the same way every day,” Tavares said. “I try to bring a great attitude and work ethic, and hopefully I am rewarded.
“I’ve been working at this for 2 1/2 years now, and I’m just trying to find that consistency and be a contributor on a nightly basis whether it is offensively or all-around and defensively.”
In nine career games against the Leafs, Tavares has five goals and two assists.
Both the Leafs and Islanders recognize the crucial nature of their home-and-home set, which concludes on Tuesday night in Long Island, before the all-star break.
The Leafs are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 51 points, two back of the eighth-place Washington Capitals. The Isles are in 12th place with 44 points.
Toronto will go with the same lineup that could not muster much in a 3-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. That means goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who has won 10 of his past 15 starts, will get the nod in the Leafs net.
Evgeni Nabokov will start for the Islanders.
“Nabokov is giving them solid goaltending,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “That’s a huge plus, a veteran presence in net. He does not get rattled.
"You get that type of goaltending and your offence picks up, all areas of your game get a little better.”
Gustavsson said he will be cognizant of each time Tavares, who has 48 points in 46 games and will play in the all-star game in Ottawa on Sunday, hops over the boards.
“You want to look around and see if he is on the ice,” Gustavsson said. “He can make special plays. I’m aware that he is a skilled player and such a good passer.”