Leafs won't play Irwin yet

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

Ron Wilson likes his new 6-foot-5 centre, Brayden Irwin, but not enough to break up what has been a winning lineup for the Maple Leafs when Atlanta visits on Tuesday.

Irwin, signed to a two-year entry level contract on Monday, practised with the Leafs including old University of Vermont winger Viktor Stalberg, but Wilson won't rush him.

“If not Thursday (against Buffalo), he'll play Saturday (Boston),” Wilson said. “He’ll at least get to know his teammates a little bit and I have to see what he can do. We’ll fit him in on one of our lines at least in one game.”

Toronto, with points in nine of its past 14 games, will attempt to stave off playoff elimination one more day but the Thrashers still have a shot at eighth spot as they and Boston wheeze towards the finish line, separated by two points.

“The game we played against Boston (a 4-0 loss a week ago that halted a strong playoff push) we had a chance to catch them and I felt that (Atlanta’s) inexperience played a large role in it,” coach John Anderson said. “We have a lot of young players not used to this prestigious thing of being in the playoffs. After a month and a half, we should be.

“By winning and putting pressure on the teams above you, their games become more important and they start to do the same (nervous) things we are doing.”

Jonas Gustavsson will be trying for his eighth consecutive win in the Leafs’ net, something just five other goalies in club history have managed. It’s likey he’ll be opposed by Ondrej Pavelec, who lost an overtime game to the Leafs in Atlanta last week.

The Leafs will be making at least one minor change as the rotation at fourth line wing will likely see Jamie Lundmark replace Wayne Primeau, while a flu-ridden Carl Gunnarsson might be scratched from the blueline, which would mean both Jeff Finger and Garnet Exelby would dress for Toronto after switching in the press box each game.


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