Quest for 'whole package'
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson (QMI Agency)
Any spies from rival NHL teams at the MasterCard Centre would have been wasting their time on Friday.
Injuries, illness and demotions made Ron Wilson's practice a mish-mash, though he did have enough bodies to work on some glaring team weaknesses.
"We have to get our game together, but we know what we have to do," Wilson insisted. "We have to win some battles on the offenesive zone around our opponent's net. The message today was win battles by using our points."
Toronto did hold the Sharks to one even-strength goal in a 2-1 loss on Thursday.
"We pretty well shut down their big (Joe Thornton-Patrick Marleau) line. We did a good job defensively. For half the game we forgot about the offensive thing, because we were so focused on protecting the goaltender so he gets good looks at the puck. Now we have to put the whole package together."
Speaking of goaltending, Wilson was relieved not to spend another session with reporters picking apart James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson, only nodding yes when asked if Reimer comes back Saturday against Washington.
ROAD TO RICOH
Darryl Boyce and Jay Rosehill will have to fight their way back from the Marlies yet again.
The two were on the NHL waiver wire Friday as the Leafs began manouvering for Monday's 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline. Boyce had two points in 17 games as a checking winger, after his hard-earned spot on the roster from last year was given to Philippe Dupuis at camp. Boyce bumped the latter at Christmas.
Rosehill has had a far more frustrating time of it, only nine games played since October, the rest as a healthy scratch. Caught up in the NHL's temperance movement against fighting, he was kept on the main roster, but has only seen action once since Christmas. He'll join another out-of-work enforcer, Colton Orr, on the Marlies' roster.
After Monday's deadline, the Leafs will be permitted just four callups, but can expand the roster without going over the salary cap. Emergency callups are permitted if the Leafs fall below two goalies, six defencemen and 12 forwards. The American Hockey League post-season rosters are also to be declared Monday at 3, meaning the Leafs would have to do a paper shuffle with prospect Jake Gardiner to keep him eligible for the Marlies should the Leafs not make it beyond the April 7 regular-season finale in Montreal.
HISTORY COMES TO LIFE
Mats Sundin's presence was not very helpful to the Leafs two weeks ago when Montreal spoiled his banner-raising night in a 5-0 win, but maybe the 1961-62 Stanley Cup champion Leafs will provide more energy in the Air Canada Centre.
About 10 members of the team, the most recent to win three straight Cups for Toronto, were flown in Friday for a dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of the first title and they'll be honoured before the Leafs-Capitals' game.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said captain George Armstrong, who is still a Leafs scout at age 81.
"Guys like Johnny Bower, Eddie Shack and Red Kelly I see occasionally, but I'm looking forward to seeing a player such as John MacMillan, who I haven't seen a lot and who not a lot of people would know."
Those living players unable to attend the reunion are Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon, Allan Stanley, Bert Olmstead, Ron Stewart, and Al Arbour.
OUT OF TUNE
With home points so crucial to the Leafs, they might be interested in what sharp-eared Sportsnet Radio beat guy David Alter has detected.
When Alan Frew's maple-sappy song Free To Be (the ditty that declares the Leafs as 'Canada's team') is played pre-game at the ACC this year, the Leafs are an uninspired 0-4-2. They have been out-scored 25-9 in that stretch. Toronto has 10 home games remaining to fiddle with the playlist.