Pogge on a pogo stick

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 3:01 AM ET

Rookie goaltender Justin Pogge was assigned to the Toronto Marlies yesterday, along with defenceman Phil Oreskovic.

Pogge, 22, who has appeared in seven games with the Leafs this season, posting a 1-4-1 record, gave up six goals on 20 shots in Toronto's 7-5 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday and did not impress the Leafs brass yet again.

The Fort McMurray, Alta. native, rightly or wrongly, has been called the Leafs' goaltender of the future, but there is speculation that his future in the NHL, if there is one, may not be in Toronto.

As for the remainder of this season, the Marlies are in the playoff hunt in the AHL and the Leafs braintrust would like to see Pogge help the farm club qualify for the post-season and go deep.

"I'm really hoping that the Marlies can make the playoffs," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "You see what a goalie's made of when you play in a playoff game when the pressure's on."

In 49 games with the Marlies this season, the 6-foot-3, 204-pound Pogge has compiled a record of 23-20-5 with a 2.70 goals against average and a .895 save percentage.

Oreskovic, 22, was recalled by the Leafs on March 8 and appeared in 10 games, collecting a goal and an assist with 21 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound defenceman was the 82nd overall selection by the Leafs in the 2005 entry draft and has shown excellent improvement in his skating this season. He gave the Leafs a physical presence during his time in Toronto, including dropping the gloves on a number of occasions, and could make the squad full time next season.

The Leafs regular goaltender Martin Gerber has one more game to serve on his three-game suspension (as a result of bumping a referee on March 24 against Washington), so the Leafs will either have to bring Pogge back up for Wednesday's game against Philadelphia or call up his backup with the Marlies, Adam Munro, who has posted a 12-10-1 record on the farm this season with an impressive save percentage of .911 and goals against average of 2.48.

The end is near

A win by either the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens or ninth-place Florida Panthers will officially eliminate the Leafs from playoff contention. One more win would give the Panthers 87 points. And while the Leafs could tie that if they won their last six games of the season, the Panthers would finish ahead of Toronto as they would have one more victory. If the Leafs fail to make the post-season this year, it would be the fourth consecutive season of not qualifying for the playoffs.


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