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Leafs look complacent in first three games

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care.

They've allowed 12 goals in three games. They've only scored once in 180 minutes of preseason hockey. Still, as Toronto prepares to face the Penguins tonight at Air Canada Centre, Leafs head coach Pat Quinn isn't overly concerned with his team's 0-3 record.

While other teams like the Senators and Canadiens are auditioning young players for roster spots, the Leafs essentially have their lineup set. Toronto will have a veteran-filled team for the upcoming season and according to Quinn, no one is pushing them for jobs.

"It's an age-old thing, but the older, secure guys take their time to get ready," said Quinn. "You always believe - and I was probably one of them-that you could flick on the switch in time to start the regular season. Attention to responsibility has not been there from our veterans and we are two weeks away (from the first game), so we better start paying attention to it."

With the exception of Curtis Joseph and a few other young players, the Leafs level of play in their three preseason games has been terrible and Quinn has admitted as much when discussing his team's performance. The Leafs have simply been outworked and outskated by younger teams from Montreal and Ottawa.

"I'm not making excuses, but Montreal has four spots open and Ottawa has three spots open," said Leafs forward Tie Domi. "And, really, if you look at our lineup, we don't have much open and these teams have prospects who know there are jobs available. These kids are fighting for jobs and they're busting their butts. For some of these kids, it's like their Stanley Cup."

About the only question mark that faces Toronto is who will play on the fourth line. Mats Sundin will centre the Leafs top line with Mikael Renberg and Jonus Hoglund. Gary Roberts, Alexander Mogilny and Robert Reichel look to form the second line while Travis Green will be between Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker.

Tie Domi will miss the first eight games due to a suspension, so for now, Alyn McCauley, Garry Valk, Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jeff Farkas will all be vying for a shot at playing on the fourth line.

With Tomas Kaberle not in camp, the only new faces on the Leafs blueline are expected to be Anders Eriksson and Nathan Dempsey. Karel Pilar has struggled in the games he's played and may start the season in St. John's.

Curtis Joseph is the undisputed No. 1 goaltender, but at tight battle is taking place for the back up spot. While the Leafs would love to see rookie Mikael Tellqvist win the job, veteran goalie Corey Schwab is having a good camp.

While Quinn isn't making any excuses of his team's poor performance, he said the Leafs have been thrown off their practice schedule.

"We went five days without a practice and you don't like that any time, never mind in training camp," Quinn said. "We're out of synch, which you would normally expect at this time of year, but without the days to practice to get it back on track, it is pretty hard."
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