Leafs start Pogge plan

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson has a plan as to how many games he will start the organization's "goaltender of the future", Justin Pogge, in the last half of the season.

And that plan will begin tonight when Pogge, who was recalled from the Marlies yesterday, starts for the Leafs against the Wild in Minnesota.

"You'll see (the plan) develop over the next couple of months where every once in a while he's going to play a game," Wilson said of the young goaltender, adding that Pogge's callups will depend on a lot of variables in the schedule.

"Different tests, different teams, different challenges, different venues, stuff like that," Wilson said.

Pogge, 22, has played one game with the Leafs this season, a victory, giving up only two goals in a 6-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta on Dec. 22.

In his past seven games for the Marlies, Pogge has allowed only 15 goals. He was told on Sunday night by Jeff Jackson, the Leafs assistant general manager, that he would be called up to the Leafs.

"He has been phenomenal, he has a great save percentage, great goals against. Obviously he's been doing the job," Wilson said of Pogge's play of late, adding that his regular goaltenders, Vesa Toskala and Curtis Joseph, will probably be rusty from the recent four-day all-star break, while Pogge played two games this past weekend for the Marlies.

"So I thought it actually made sense to start (Pogge) when he has been playing a lot lately, and it gives our goalies a couple of extra days to get themselves ready for the Colorado game (on Thursday in Denver)."

Pogge, the Leafs' first choice, 90th overall in the 2004 draft, has played 32 games with the Marlies this season, posting an overall record of 15-13-4, a goals-against average of 2.58 and a save percentage of .901.

EXCITING

"I've been working on my game for a while now and things are just starting to come together," Pogge said. "(Being called up) is still new and exciting and I'm really looking forward to it.

"I'd like to win and try to stay around as long as I could," he said. "But if I get sent back down, I get sent down. And if we win some games down there, I'll get a shot back up here again."

The Leafs also recalled Nikolai Kulemin from the Marlies. Kulemin was sent down to Toronto's AHL affiliate on Friday. The Marlies don't play next until Friday.


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