Hanson will use his smarts

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

TAMPA -- Christian Hanson knows exactly the address he needs to inhabit if his second stint as a Maple Leaf is going to result in permanent residency.

"I've got to get in front of the net," the big Notre Dame grad and son of Slap Shot legend Dave Hanson said after this morning's skate in advance of tonight's game against the Lightning.

"Banging bodies, getting pucks out from the corner and getting in front of net, that's what I've got to do," said Hanson, who played five games at the end of last season and was called up yesterday after it was learned that centre John Mitchell will be out of the lineup for as long as six weeks with a knee injury.

And at 6-foot-4, 228-pounds it is hoped he can be the physical presence sorely lacking many nights in the Leafs lineup.

"We want him to go hard to the net like he's been doing in the American Hockey League the last month or so," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "When you look at our team, you can see that we need some more size and power up front and getting a guy who can go to the net and win those battles (is important.)"

Hanson will find himself on a line of smaller speedsters -- Niklas Hagman and Mikhail Grabovski -- which will help hammer home the point of his assignment. The rugged forward says he has watched as many Leafs games as possible and given that he's a college grad, he's bright enough to figure out where the team has been too soft up front on many nights.

Wilson promised he will continue to juggle the lines to find a combination that helps generate more successful offence rather than just piling up the shots on goal against an opponent.

Further to that, Jamal Mayers will move to centre on the fourth line. Mayers has played solid the past five games after being a healthy scratch for the previous nine.

"He's probably our best faceoff guy," Wilson said of Mayers. "I just want to reward him for playing well."

Mayers inclusion means Rickard Wallin will once again sit. The coach also said that Jonas Gustavsson will likely start the next handful of games until Vesa Toskala returns from injury.

Joey MacDonald, who was called up yesterday along with Hanson, will be the regular backup.

Loose Leafs

The Lightning have yet to lose in regulation time at home (5-0-4). The only other team not to lose at home is San Jose...Bolstered by a 61-shot losing effort to the New York Islanders on Monday and a 41-shot losing effort to Tampa earlier this month, the Leafs enter tonight’s play leading the league with an average of 34.7 shots per game.


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