Leafs need to call up a D-man

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

It turns out the best move interim general manager Cliff Fletcher made after the season began was keeping a bunch of defencemen around.

The Maple Leafs began the regular season with nine NHL-calibre defenceman and nobody appeared too happy.

Ian White sat in the pressbox for the first 11 games, Staffan Kronwall was sent to the minors and newcomer Jonas Frogren appeared on the roster infrequently.

But now, with Mike Van Ryn (broken hand), Frogren (arm) and Luke Schenn (leg) all out with injuries, the Leafs actually will have to call up a defenceman from the Toronto Marlies, most likely Kronwall.

Van Ryn still is a couple of weeks away from returning and Schenn reportedly is gone for the same length of time. Frogren is gone for a few more weeks.

Add that to the fact that the Leafs, who dropped a listless 2-1 decision to the Washington Capitals last night, just returned from a three-game Western Conference swing, and you have one tired and beat-up looking squad, as it prepares for a game tomorrow night at the ACC against the New York Islanders.

"It's an excuse, but it's pretty legit," head coach Ron Wilson said of the difficulty in returning from a west coast trip. "After you go for three games away, especially out of your time zone, usually the first game back you can be a little logy in the mind, and that showed a lot (last night). We were having trouble concentrating on where to go. It was like we were a beat slow on the metronome tonight."

Defenceman Jeff Finger, who spent the previous two seasons in Colorado, said jet-lag was no excuse for his club's poor effort against the Caps.

"It's almost a treat out here (in the Eastern Conference)," he said.

"The only time we really have issues in terms of travel with our schedule is when we go out west.

"But playing out west, the travel's a lot harder."

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REPLAY

SO LONG TED

A scoreboard tribute was played during the first period in dedication to Canadian business icon and Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers, who passed away last week.

ALZNER MILESTONE

Karl Alzner's second-period goal -- which gave the Washington Capitals a 1-0 lead -- was his first NHL marker.

TOUGH AND GOOD

The crowd was buzzing in the second period when rugged Leafs winger Ryan Hollweg ran into Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin and it was Hollweg who was sent flying. Ovechkin, who entered the game third in NHL scoring with 34 points in 24 games, threw his body around all night.

DANTASTIC

The Air Canada Centre crowd is so dull that the scoreboard operations department got former NFL quarterback great Dan Marino to urge the crowd to make some noise late in the second period.

OH, SHOOT

After going 17 games without being outshot, the Leafs have been outshot in five of six games.


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