Former Maple Leafs forward Steve Thomas will drop the puck tonight in a ceremonial faceoff to honour the 10th anniversary of the Air Canada Centre. After the game starts, a video salute to ex-captain Mats Sundin will be presented on the scoreboard.
The Leafs yesterday assigned goaltender Justin Pogge to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Pogge has played in 37 games for the Marlies this season, compiling a record of 19-14-4 with a 2.75 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. In five games with the Leafs, he is 1-3-1. Coach Ron Wilson said Pogge will certainly be recalled again for some action with the big club later in the season. Pogge played in Toronto's 4-3 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday but regular starter Vesa Toskala practised yesterday and is expected to start against Sundin and the Vancouver Canucks tonight at the ACC. Toskala also is expected to start against the Rangers in New York tomorrow night.
Veteran defencemen Mike Van Ryn (knee) and Tomas Kaberle (broken hand) will be out for at least another week. Both skated at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday prior to the regular practice.
"Not until (next weekend) would I even entertain the thought of them being ready to play," Wilson said.
MITCHELL MOVING ON UP
Wilson said he can see a day when rookie centre John Mitchell gets more ice time, but added that won't happen until the Waterloo native plays well consistently in his own end.
"When I see during a game that he's ready for a little bit more ice time and he's getting the job done defensively, we'll bump him up," Wilson said. "I think considering he never played a shift in the NHL before this season, he has been okay, mostly in a fourth-line role. But he is capable of moving up in the lineup. Probably develop into a real good third-line type centre."
Mitchell, who won the fastest skater event at the Leafs' skills competition last Sunday, has 17 points in 53 games.
AROUND THE GOAL
Forward Jason Blake is one shy of the Toronto franchise record of four consecutive game-winning goals. Benoit Hogue had the GWG in five consecutive Leafs wins in November/December 1995 ... Nik Antropov went 16 games without a goal, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 27, but now has seven goals in his past 10 games, and 20 on the season. This is the second consecutive season he has reached the 20-goal plateau.