Leafs D under the gun

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:28 PM ET

CHICAGO -- The Maple Leafs defence will be under the gun tonight and likely under the Gunnarsson tomorrow.

In its first test without hits and shot-block leader Mike Komisarek, Toronto’s six-man blueline will have to withstand a Blackhawk team that is doubly dangerous at home, as well as ranking No. 1 in penalty killing to the Leafs’ 30th.

Coach Ron Wilson revealed he wants Carl Gunnarsson in the lineup tomorrow against the Calgary Flames, after calling the defenceman up to replace the injured Mike Komisarek.

“He’s been playing well with the Marlies and you want to get him in there while he’s still fresh,” Wilson said after the Leafs skated at the United Center.

As for tonight, Wilson knows each man will have to be better than he’s shown, at least from the last horrid effort against Minnesota. But the defencemen can’t get too carried away trying to be the new Komisarek.

“None of them are 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds,” Wilson wryly noted. “But we need guys like Luke (Schenn) to be more aware.”

Komisarek, who will be out a few weeks with a quad muscle tear, was also one of three alternate captains for Toronto, which has not named a full-time skipper. Team points leader Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin could be joined by a third man tonight waering the A, but Wilson wouldn’t confirm it.”

Vesa Toskala gets a rare start in goal for the Leafs, Wilson cautioning the media not jump on the struggling goalie if he gives up an early goal, citing the trouble the whole team has had getting off to good starts this year. Cristobal Huet will be in net for the Blackhawks, who are 8-2-1 at home.

The player the Leafs might fear most isn’t Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp or Patrick Kane, but Toronto native John Madden, a checking centre with 13 goals in 34 games against Toronto.

Chicago is thinking of using right winger Marian Hossa as a centre at some stage when he debuts next week after shoulder surgery. His projected centre, Dave Bolland, will be out months with back surgery and there’s a reluctance to put Toews with Hossa 5-on-5 because it would put too much punch on one line.

“We want (Hossa) to play and get comfortable in his game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “(Hossa at centre) is something we’ll entertain later on.”

TONIGHT'S LINEUPS

TORONTO


Goal

Vesa Toskala
Jonas Gustavsson


Forwards

Jason Blake - John Mitchell - Phil Kessel

Niklas Hagman - Rickard Wallin - Lee Stempniak

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Wayne Primeau - Matt Stajan - Colton Orr


Defence

Francois Beauchemin - Ian White

Tomas Kaberle - Garnet Exelby

Jeff Finger - Luke Schenn

CHICAGO


Goal

Cristobal Huet
Antti Niemi


Forwards

Dustin Byfuglien - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp

Kris Versteeg - Andrew Ebbett - Patrick Kane

Andrew Ladd - John Madden - Troy Brouwer

Ben Eager - Colin Fraser - Tomas Kopecky


Defence

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrookbr>
Brian Campbell - Cam Barker

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Sopel


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