Marlies showcase Young Guns line

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

The Toronto Marlies open their American Hockey League season today at 4 p.m. (Ricoh Coliseum) against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Of note to the Maple Leafs' brass will be the performance of the top line of Jiri Tlusty, Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson.

Tlusty was demoted after a poor camp with the Leafs, while Bozak shone as a centre, but couldn't break through the top two lines. Same with Hanson, who has plenty of potential but has to adjust to more elements of the pro game in the opinion of Leaf coaches.

Joey MacDonald is expected to get the start in goal.

Nifty fifty?

Alexander Ovechkin isn't getting carried away yet with thoughts of scoring 50 goals in his first 50 games, not accomplished in the NHL since Brett Hull in 1991-92. He had two in his first game and before last night, he'd scored seven times in the past four home openers he has participated in as a Cap.

"It's hard. It's not the 1970s or '80s," he told the Washington Post.

Ex out, Jay sits, too

As expected, coach Ron Wilson made two lineup changes for last night's game, replacing Garnet Exelby on the blueline with Jeff Finger and inserting Jamal Mayers on the fourth line with Wayne Primeau and Colton Orr.

Mayers bumped Jay Rosehill, who played 2:13 in his first NHL game and had one fight.

"It's early in the season and we'll be tweaking our lines," Wilson said after the morning skate. "The lines are not set in stone. We didn't spend too much time with these guys (on the main roster) because we had so many young players (at training camp)."

Loose Leafs

Alexei Ponikarovsky's goal against Montreal gave him 23 points in his past 19 regular season games.


Photos