Leafs welcome back Hollweg's 'physicality'

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Maple Leafs bruiser Ryan Hollweg, back from a two-game suspension, will get the chance to give the St. Louis team the Blues this afternoon.

Hollweg missed the first two games of the regular season after being slapped with the automatic suspension as a result of being assessed three misconducts within 41 games in the boarding/checking-from-behind category -- two from last season and one from a pre-season game against St. Louis.

But he will not have to wait to get into a game, as head coach Ron Wilson feels that the 1-1 Leafs need an injection of energy and toughness.

"Having somebody like Ryan Hollweg being kind of a fire plug, a spark plug, whatever you want to call it, can often times create that kind of momentum in terms of (team) physicality," said Wilson.

"We're not non-physical, but I'd like to see us, especially at home, be a lot more aggressive than we were (Saturday) night (in a 6-1 loss to Montreal)."

TOUGHNESS

The Leafs aren't a big, tough team by NHL standards, but Hollweg, who dropped the gloves five times in the pre-season, brings that dimension of toughness -- not just as a fighter, but somebody who usually finishes his check with a collision against the boards, or in open ice.

"It opens up the rink for the skill guys," Hollweg said, of his style of play. "By playing physical, I want to open up some room on the ice. An extra second is all you need sometimes to make a play."

Hollweg has five goals in 200 NHL games, along with 311 penalty minutes, so Wilson won't be looking at the California native to spark the Leafs anemic offence.

"I think the (opposing players) pretty much know that when I'm coming after them, I'm probably going to finish with a hit," he said.

"So of course it's going to be in the back of their head, something extra for them to think about. And it's just another decision they're going to have to make. And sometimes that's when mistakes are made and you can capitalize."

Hollweg skated with the line of Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and rookie John Mitchell at practice yesterday and one doesn't need a degree in mathematics to realize that one of those three forwards won't dress for this afternoon's game against the St. Louis Blues.

Wilson wouldn't reveal who, although the rest of Leafs are certainly glad to have Hollweg back.

ENERGY

"Energy, a lot of energy," said forward Alex Steen, when asked what Hollweg brings to the table.

"He's a guy you know is going to go out there and give it his all -- he hits, he fights, he's able to score if the opportunity comes. He makes good plays, smart plays, and he's going to be a good addition to the lineup."


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