Leafs and Jackets Preseason Tidbits
The Leafs are looking to put up a strong performance after back to back stable appearances against the defending champs. With a similar roster, it will be interesting to see how Toskala fairs in net behind the crop.
- Ron Wilson continues to ease Leaf fans off the back of Ian White as he provided the youngster with an opportunity to show his worth for the club as a valuable defensive forward and offensive defenseman that can rush. Leaf fans have quickly turned the â€œkick him outâ€ signs over to â€œwelcome homeâ€. Ian White has responded well to the idea and the media over the matter. “Apparently, tomorrow I’m strapping on the pads (and playing goal). I have no idea what they’ve been cookin’ up, but I’ll play wherever they need me,” White said with a laugh. An idea that Ron Wilson believes to be a great asset is his ability to “go back and play the point on the power play if he’s playing forward, thatâ€™s something we can think aboutâ€.
- Goaltender Vesa Toskala has fared “okay” so far in preseason action, but Wilson isnâ€™t worried about his effort. “Vesa doesn’t have to be ready to play until Thursday,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson after the loss. “Concentration is still a bit of an issue with him, but he’ll be there for us when it matters.” Toskala will get another crack at warming up tonight against the Jackets.
- When asked about the style of play against Western teams, Ron Wilson considers it a â€œhard-nosed, down low, I guess manly game. Iâ€™d like to get our team to play like that.â€ Itâ€™s a style of play Niklas Hagman is used to, but no one really expected it to be the same style of play his on again off again line mate John Mitchell practices. â€œI love playing centre and being able to have open ice,â€ Mitchell said, â€œbut I also like going into the corner, getting a bang, coming out with the puck and getting it to the other players on my line.â€ Ron Wilson continues to boast about the 23 year old surprise this preseason after every affair. â€œHeâ€™s shown me a lot,â€ Wilson said. â€œHeâ€™s got really good speed, that showed in all our testing. Heâ€™s been able to bring that speed to the game. He makes plays. He made a couple of great plays last night and he plays with a little bit of an edge. Heâ€™s a natural centre but because of our depth at centre, if he wants to make the team heâ€™s going to have to play a little bit on the wing,â€ Wilson said. â€œI think heâ€™s going to be comfortable with that. At his age, beggars canâ€™t be choosers.â€ Mitchell is already well respected in the locker room, and is willing to put up his gritty game day in and day out. â€œI just have to play hard every night,â€ Mitchell said. â€œI canâ€™t take any shifts off, especially someone young like me trying to make the team. I know Ron is not guaranteeing anyone spots, but itâ€™s more so even for me.â€
- Luke Schenn is only days away from signing his first contract with the Leafs. The contract must be in place before Thursday nightâ€™s season opener against the Red Wings in order for the rookie to take part in the action. “We hope to get the contract done in the next two days,” Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher said. According to Sportsnet, the only part of the deal that Schenn and the Leafs have yet to agree on is smoothing out what is called B-bonuses, which are windfalls for winning major trophies and being named to all-star teams. Schenn’s base salary is expected to the maximum $875,000 (all currency U.S.) and his bonuses cannot exceed the maximum $8.55-million over the three years.
- Toronto is set for the 5:00 EST matchup against Columbus and will be icing practically the same speedy and gritty team that faced the Red Wings.
Forward: Niklas Hagman, Alex Steen, Jiri Tlusty, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Boyd Devereaux, Alex Ponikarovsky, John Mitchell, Ryan Hollweg, Jason Blake, Nik Antropov, Mikhail Grabovski.
Defense: Luke Schenn, Ian White (rotating forward and defense), Carlo Colaiacovo, Tomas Kaberle, Jonas Frogren, Mike Van Ryn, Anton Stralman.
Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph, Vesa Toskala
Micheal A. Aldred
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