|Leafs rookie Nazem Kadri will be in the lineup tonight to face the Penguins. (Sun Media/Michael Peake)
No Sidney Crosby, no Evgeni Malkin and no Marc-Andre Fleury does not mean the Maple Leafs can take the Pittsburgh Penguins lightly tonight, especially with so many Leafs still trying to crack the lineup.
The Leafs are sending the Frat Pack line of NCAA grads Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg, as well as Jiri Tlusty and Nazem Kadri into what is a very vital exhibition game from coach Ron Wilson's roster perspective. The Leafs still have to cut about 10 players to get to a final roster of 23.
Opposing them will be a watered down Pens' lineup, taking a breather after losing 4-3 in Montreal with most of their big guns in uniform. But Wilson, whose team is 3-1 so far in pre-season, knows what rival coaches have to go through in the often cramped exhibition season.
"Looking at Pittsburgh's lineup, people are thinking 'These guys won the Stanley Cup?'," Wilson joked.
But he noted Leaf winger Tlusty has not hit the scoresheet in two games.
"Right now, it's up to Jiri to make an impression," Wilson said.
It would be very remarkable if all three of the college kids made the team but Wilson says they've certainly spiced up camp with their energy and enthusiasm.
"Whether they make it now, or next month or whatever, we've really upgraded," Wilson said. "They allowed us to make the deal to get Phil Kessel."
LOOSE LEAFS: The Leafs confirmed plans to spend two days training in the Huntsville, Ont., area next week after the final roster is picked ... forward Jason Allison remains ill, but might play Wednesday in Buffalo ... Vesa Toskala was scheduled to play tonight and in two other games.
Luke Schenn and Francois Beauchemin
Mike Komisarek and Tomas Kaberle
Ian White and Carl Gunnarsson
Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Jiri Tlusty
Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg
Jay Rosehill, Nazem Kadri, Lee Stempniak
Jamal Mayers, Wayne Primeau, Colton Orr