Tlusty back, but sits

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Not wanting to take any chances at being shorthanded for their three-game swing through the deep south, the Leafs called up forward Jiri Tlusty from the AHL Marlies to accompany them for the trip to Carolina, Tampa and Sunrise, Fla.

With a number of players being banged up or battling the flu, Tlusty is seen as a security blanket for the team as it approaches the Christmas break.

While Tlusty did not dress for last night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, he was, as the old cliche goes, "just happy to be here."

Tlusty was informed of his promotion just minutes after completing Marlies practice Monday. He quickly went home, packed his bags, then headed off to join the parent club.

"I enjoyed my first time up here earlier this year," Tlusty said. "When they sent me down, I just tried to play my best down there and see if I might get called up again. I wanted to make sure that if someone got hurt I would be the guy they would look to.

"It was fun down there. The team is doing well and I was getting a few more minutes (of ice time) than I was here.

"Still, this is where I want to be."

THE STRALMAN COMETH

Coach Paul Maurice makes no secret of the fact that he wants to see improvement in rookie blueliner Anton Stralman from his previous stint with the Leafs.

Stralman was called up from the Marlies after defenceman Bryan McCabe broke three bones in his left hand in the third period of the Leafs' 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

"I want to see him look like he's here for the second time, not the first time," Maurice said of Stralman,

After making noises during the off-season that he might rather play in Sweden than with the Marlies, Stralman now admits that life on the farm has been a good experience for him, especially when it comes to adapting to the smaller ice surfaces in North America.

Stralman will receive time on the power play, but Maurice said he and partner Andy Wozniewski should expect their minutes to be limited.

With McCabe out for an estimated six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his left hand Monday, the Leafs will rely on Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle, Hal Gill and Ian White to pick up the slack.

Last night, Kubina led all Leafs in ice time with 32 minutes, 50 seconds, followed by Gill (28:58), Kaberle (25:53) and White (20:53).

On the other hand, Stralman played just under five minutes, an indication that the aforementioned four defencemen will be forced to carry the brunt of the workload.


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