Photo: Christian Bonin/

Viktor Loov recalled on emergency basis

With Matt Hunwick a game-time decision for tonight’s matchup against the New York Rangers after leaving practice yesterday, 23-year-old defenceman Viktor Loov has been recalled from the Toronto Marlies.

Loov may be known for his quirky personality and booming hits, but his overall game has grown under Sheldon Keefe this season.

He still enjoys laying big hits on opponents, but his decision making on when to do so has improved markedly.

It’s actually Loov’s skating that has been the most noticeable part of his game this season. Playing alongside Stuart Percy for the majority of the season, the Swedish defenseman has been given more license to carry the puck and is deceptively quick, often catching opponents flatfooted.

The biggest cause for concern is that Loov’s points per game has taken a step back in his sophomore AHL season, down to .23 from .28 last season. Equipped with a booming shot, he’s got just one goal to his name through 48 games compared to his six (all at even strength) in 74 in his rookie year.

That said, there’s some encouraging signs below the surface stats. He’s looked more confident in the offensive zone of late, jumping into the play more often, and in terms of tangibles he has been shooting more in the last month. Loov has averaged three efforts on net per game during that period, which is more than double his seasonal average.

During the Marlies poor stretch of recent play, Loov was guilty of taking too many penalties (not alone in that department), but he has reined himself back in of late. When curbed a little, his physical play is as big a strength to his game as his skating ability, and he’s a useful option on the penalty kill.

– Mark Rackham

Darren Dreger: Leafs-Pens talking?

The phrasing “potentially, as an example” seems like code for “pure speculation,” but here is your rumour du jour:

Meanwhile, Pierre Lebrun floated the Roman Polak to Pittsburgh possibility today:

There’s also this, on the heels of the murmurs that the Flames are looking into a Leafs goalie:

Seems like this is as good as it gets with a leak-free, Lou Lamoriell-run front office.

Afternoon news and links: