Second chance for Tlusty

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Jeremy Williams' pain is Jiri Tlusty's gain.

The Maple Leafs recalled former top draft pick Tlusty from the Marlies yesterday to replace another forward, Williams, who was injured on Tuesday in the Leafs' victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Tlusty is expected to be inserted into the lineup tonight when the Leafs face the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre.

"They gave me a great opportunity down there (with the Marlies)," Tlusty said of the stint in the minors, in which he scored 13 goals and added five assists in 27 games. "When I was sent down, I said to myself, I just have to work hard and wait for my chance. I hope I did some things well and I'm looking forward to my chance with the Leafs."

Williams has an undisclosed shoulder injury after ramming into the boards on Tuesday. After the game, Leafs coach Ron Wilson said it was a bruise but there is speculation that the Marlies callup may have a separated shoulder.

The injury was a blow to Williams, who had five goals and two assists in 10 games with the Leafs, playing mostly on a line with Jason Blake and Dominic Moore.

Tlusty, who scored 10 goals and six assists in 58 games with the Leafs last season, skated with the latter two at yesterday's practice.

Wilson is hoping the stint with the Marlies was a wakeup call for Tlusty, who the coach feels may not have ideally prepared himself for his sophomore season in the NHL.

"Seeing him (yesterday), he was skating better in practice," Wilson said of Tlusty, whose demotion was a mild surprise. "Only recently has he started to play well in the American league. We have to give him another look here. It's all part of the learning process.

"My own theory is he was a young guy who had some success last year but he probably didn't do enough in the summer to prepare for this year. He started out behind the 8-ball, but he might have found his game now."


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