Per the Toronto Star, it appears as though Tyler Bozak may be the latest player to get a shot at centring the Maple Leafs‘ top line alongside Phil Kessel and Nik Kulemin, beginning tonight against Carolina. Â Â With Kessel having recorded only 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 12 games, the Leafs are desperately hoping this change may be the tonic required to get their star winger back on track.
Update: confirmed by am640′s Jonas Siegel.
According to Toronto Star reporter Paul Hunter, “Rickard Wallin skated on that line during Monday’s practice but, with zero goals in 34 games, the veteran Swede was little more than a space holder. Instead, said Wilson, that spot might be for someone who wasn’t at practice.” [source]
Enter Tyler Bozak. Â With Mikhail Grabovski expected to be out at least a month, Bozak should receive an extended look as a top-six forward. Â “He’s not a fourth-line guy,” noted coach Ron Wilson. “We’ll give him quality ice time and play him with [our best] players.”
The expectation is for Matt Stajan to move to the second line between Alex Ponikarovsky and Jason Blake, and John Mitchell to centre the third line with Nik Hagman (who has been equally-snakebitten as Kessel) and Lee Stempniak. Â The fourth line is expected to be comprised of three of Stalberg, Wallin, Mayers and Orr, with Wayne Primeau nursing a knee injury.
Update #2: Blake on third line with Mitchell and Stempniak, Hagman on second line with Ponikarovsky and Stajan. Wallin a healthy scratch.
Speaking of the infirmiry, Carl Gunnarsson, who has been cleared for full practice, will likely not play until Thursday against the Flyers. Â Mike Komisarek will be out for at least one more week.
Defensive pairings should remain Kaberle-Schenn, Beauchemin-White, Exelby-Finger.
Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the start in net.