Leafs need to focus on wins, not trade rumours
Jonas Gustavsson practices at the MasterCard Centre Monday. He'll start in net against the Devils Tuesday. (Michael Peake/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - This being Toronto, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson knows his players can't escape the hype and rumours surrounding the NHL trade deadline.
The trick is getting them to forget about it long enough to get some important wins as the playoff race heats up.
The Leafs were back on the ice Monday morning at the Mastercard Centre preparing for a four-game home stand, all against teams in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
So there's no time to think about next Monday's deadline, or the 6-2 wipeout loss to the Canucks Saturday night in Vancouver that ended a three-game Western Canada road trip.
"We've talked to the whole group about that," Wilson said. "I think most of our guys understand it's a business.
"(General manager Brian Burke) has talked individually with a lot of guys. Every day somebody calls your team and says they are interested in a player.
"It's something you try to put in the back of your mind but it's hard not to have it affect your game."
Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul wasn't at practice Monday nursing a minor injury after taking a puck off the lower leg on Saturday night but is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday.
"He took a shot in the foot or high ankle and it was just a maintenance day," Wilson said. "He's full-go for tomorrow."
Also due to return is defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, who missed the past three games with a high-ankle sprain. With Gunnarsson returning, Keith Aulie was returned to the Marlies on Monday.
With goaltending an obvious concern for the Leafs, Wilson is returning to Jonas Gustavsson for the date with the Devils.