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Thrashers still have Leafs number

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- The dynamic duo of Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk ran rough shot over the Toronto Maple Leafs during their rookie campaigns.

As sophomores, Heatley has continued his magic versus Toronto but the view was dramatically different for Kovalchuk, who watched from the press box in a 3-3 tie, Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.

Heatley lit things up with two powerplay points, moving his total to nine overall in five games against the Blue and White. He's is everything a coach dreams of, even Pat Quinn.

Sundin and Mogilny celebrate the game-opening goal.
Graig Abel Photography
"He's a great talent from what I see," Quinn said. "He does a lot of good things clearly he's going to be good player for a long time.

Scratched by coach Curt Fraser, Kovalchuk leads the Thrashers with six goals and also leads the league in defensive futility at minus-13. His two goals and three assists en route to a 2-2 record against Toronto last season couldn't save the young phenom from his fate.

"It's important to send a message to the team about responsibility and accountability," Fraser said.

The coaching deathwatch has been on Fraser since this season began, despite the strides the organization made last year. Winless after 10 games tends to keep the media firing squad hungry for blood, but GM Don Waddell has declared publicly his support for Fraser.

That usually means he'll be done sooner rather than later, especially if the streak goes on much further.

The woes of the Thrashers are far beyond the Leafs sluggish start but things appear to be headed in the right direction for Toronto. The silly turnovers are still a problem but the team is slowly making progress. For two periods they dominated the game and if not for a crazy, backwards kick save by Pasi Nurminen two points would have been theirs.

Quinn is remaining patient, but for how much longer is unknown. The blown defensive coverage on Patrik Stefan's game-tying goal upset the benchboss considering his No. 1 line was on the ice with his two best defencemen.

"These games are too hard to win to beat yourself, right now we are," Quinn said.

Is the message Kovalchuk received soon to be given to a Leafs' star? Only time will tell.
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