Leafs Pre-Game Tidbits
An ailing crop of defenders, a change of scenery, and a night off.
After the Leafs got word that Jonas Frogren will be out of the lineup for up to six weeks after suffering two muscle tears in his arm, they found themselves down to six defensemen. Frogren suffered the injury on his first shift of Saturdayâ€™s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and tried to play through it until he threw in the towel at the beginning of the second period. Ian White was moved to the back end during practice, and Mike Van Ryn is still a week or two away from action.
Carlo Colaiaicovo and Alex Steen passed their physicals today and are now official members of the St. Louis Blues. According to Carlo, â€œ[he] and Alex believed [they] were part of the teamâ€™s futureâ€, but they both are looking forward to pulling a different blue shirt over their heads. Steen believes â€œit’s exciting. Chapter 2 has started. I’m excited to get down there and get to meet the guys and hopefully have a better, second, third and fourth quarter of the season.â€
Acquired for the pair is shifty winger Lee Stempniak, who will make his debut tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers. In an interview with the Toronto Star, Stempniak explained his situation last year and showed confidence in coming closer to home. “The goal scoring just wasn’t there last year. It was disappointing and frustrating. I struggled at the start of the year. I think I had one goal after 20 or 21 games and I just sort of got deflated. It was a really hard year,” he said. “This summer, I just put it behind me. The day the last season ended, I was looking forward to this year. I feel really good this season, confident and making plays when they’re there and contributing in St. Louis. I’d like to just continue that.”
Lee will find himself with Blake and Moore on the third unit the start the game, but donâ€™t be surprised to watch him join Hagman and Grabovski or Stajan and Antropov as the night continues.
Curtis Joseph is excited to get the start tonight as well. “Any time you get a start, it’s all good. I know my supporting role. I’m comfortable with that and enjoy it.â€ Joseph, whose numbers are almost identical to Toskalaâ€™s this season, is still searching for his first win since returning to the Maple Leafs this summer.
Itâ€™s an interesting matchup tonight as only 3 points separate the Leafs who barely hanging on to the 11th seed in the East, and the Thrashers who sit peacefully in last. Both clubs are currently on a 3 game losing streak. The Leafs seemed to post a better effort on the road, and the Thrashers are a much better team at home, but with the Thrashers visiting the Leafs tonight, it will be intriguing to see who can step it up while out of their element.
Micheal A. Aldred