Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson scratched Carlo Colaiacovo from the lineup last night, even though the fourth-year Leaf is perfectly healthy.
"I told him that it's nothing that he's done wrong. We want to make sure that we keep everybody active," said Wilson, who plans to insert the Toronto native back into the lineup for tonight's game at Mellon Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins. "That's the way we're going to have to do it. I don't want to have guys sitting out for any length of time, especially when you have back to back games."
Colaiacovo, 25, wasn't happy with the move, which was brought on by the return of Jonas Frogren, who missed the club's last game with a bruised foot. Wilson also kept Anton Stralman in the lineup for the second straight game. The coach said that he will continue to find ways to alternate his young defence.
"It's just trying to keep everybody active," Wilson said. "So, instead of having one guy really mad, we'll have six or seven guys a little bit upset. There's probably less chance of me being shot in those situations."
Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin is not surprised that his former linemate on the Russian league Magnitogorsk team, Nikolai Kulemin, has started off well in his rookie season with the Maple Leafs. The two, who were also linemates at the world junior championship, face each other for the first time in an NHL contest tonight when the Leafs visit the Penguins.
"He's a good player -- physical, very strong, a good skater, a good shot. He has got everything," Malkin said.
Kulemin led the Leafs with two goals after three games heading into last night's tilt. Malkin, 22, has six points in five games so far for the Pens. He finished second in scoring last year with 47 goals and 59 assists, behind countryman Alex Ovechkin (65-47-112). The two played together in Magnitogorsk during the 2005-06 season.
The Leafs were bundled up and sitting in their charter plane at Pearson International yesterday just after 2 p.m., following an early practice, and were set to arrive in New York less than two hours later. But they didn't touch down in the Big Apple until after 7 p.m. GM Cliff Fletcher said the club was told the delay was the result of air traffic congestion in the New York area, but he believes it was the result of air traffic being held up by the arrival of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, who was in NYC last night for the Alfred E. Smith benefit dinner. Democratic hopeful Barack Obama was also in attendance.