The Pogge Project is moving to its next phase.
Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge was back on the ice with the team for a workout at the Air Canada Centre yesterday in advance of a possible start tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
"I'm just trying to go day by day and do as well as I can," Pogge said after sharing the practice workload with Vesa Toskala and Curtis Joseph.
"It's good to get another chance to play a little bit. They didn't bring me up just for the hell of it."
In fact, this time he's up for more than that. While Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he "wouldn't tip my hand" on whether Pogge would start tonight, he will remain with the team for the remaining three games of the team's home stand this week.
The idea is to introduce Pogge to as many NHL situations as possible, including big-league practice and, for the first time, at least one home game.
"What we want is that he just doesn't play games but that occasionally he gets to practise and see NHL shots and quality shots," Wilson said.
"Practising with NHL shooters factors as well into how well he plays in the games, we hope."
The other hope is that Pogge gets a little more support in front of him than in his previous contest.
In his most recent start, Feb. 4 in Buffalo, Pogge was left on his own in a 5-0 loss to the Sabres. The loss lowered his record to 1-2 in three NHL starts with a 4.33 goals-against average.
"We didn't have a good game in front of him (in Buffalo)," Wilson said. "Hopefully when he does play we're sound defensively and he's on top of his game."
It is possible that Pogge could start two games this week. Wilson said last week that the team would like to see how the 22-year-old fares in back-to-back starts at some point.