Rookie Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn claims he always has been a heavy hitter -- it's just taken some time to show it in the pros. The 19-year-old drew rave reviews for a couple of big hits on Saturday night, including one in which he nailed Pens star Evgeni Malkin.
"The first part of the year, there weren't (as many hits) as I would like because you are adjusting to the speed of the game and you don't want to get running around and get out of position," said Schenn, who also was a clear winner in a fight against the Pens Tyler Kennedy on Saturday.
"Now I am getting more adjusted to it and the hits are starting to come."
Kennedy was suspended for one game yesterday for leaving the bench to challenge Schenn after the hit on Malkin.
Kennedy will miss Pittsburgh's game at Montreal today and is eligible to return tomorrow against Tampa Bay.
Defenceman Anton Stralman admits to being frustrated at shuffling up and down between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies. But the young Swede hopes to make the best of the opportunity he is getting because of the hand injury to Tomas Kaberle.
"You've got to make the best of it, especially on the power play," Stralman said yesterday. "I try to be offensive-minded and try to make plays so obviously the power play is something you want to work on.
"I don't think anyone would like to go up and down (between the Leafs and Marlies) but that's how it works.
"It's kind of frustrating, but you have to work the same way when you get sent down."
Florida coach Peter DeBoer has warned his Panthers players to expect a tough opponent tonight against the Leafs.
"They're a team that seems to be turning it around in the right direction," DeBoer told the team's official website yesterday. "I've been watching a lot of tape of them. The last few games I thought they've played very well.
"I think early in the year they really used their speed and played with a lot of confidence. With a lot of young teams, including ours, when you lose that confidence you tend to sit back and not create as much.
"I think they played some hockey where it looked like that was the case. But they seem to be back where they were early in the year."
With the Panthers in town tonight, defenceman Jay Bouwmeester will be in the spotlight. Bouwmeester is widely considered to be one of the most sought after players as the NHL trade deadline approaches.