Leafs Locker: Get physical

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

Luke Schenn ended the pre-season with a bang on Saturday, finishing with 19 minutes in penalties after initiating a fight when he took exception to a low hit from Justin Abdelkader of the Wings.

But Schenn will be playing a prominent role again on opening night against Montreal after a great training camp where he fought off some challenges from new defencemen and seems to be forming a good partnership with second-year Leaf Carl Gunnarsson as the 5-6 combo. Schenn also blocked five shots on Saturday, almost half of Toronto’s total.

“I felt pretty good, a lot better than (at training camp) last year,” said Schenn, whose sophomore slump saw him languish in the press box for a few games at mid-season. “I felt comfortable, kind of picking up where I left off (in April) last year.”

The panic is gone from Schenn’s own-zone game, as he packs on more muscle that’s helped him win the one-on-one battles.

“I think we have made progress as a team,” Schenn said. “But after nine games, you want to get to games that mean something in the point column.”

Achtung Burkie

Marcel Mueller could be making the first bid for promotion from the Marlies before the Leafs even play a game.

After looking nervous in his first NHL training camp, the big German winger had his second two-goal night on Saturday as the Marlies completed a two-game sweep of the Rochester Americans, 4-3.

On Friday in Bradford, one of Mueller’s two goals was short-handed, and he added an assist in the 7-3 win.

“His production was great and he is very dangerous with time and space,” Marlies coach Dallas Eakins said. “(But) we will have to instill some new habits into his play away from the puck.”

Mueller is playing on a line with Brayden Irwin and Greg Scott.

He does have a scoring history, 21 goals with Mannheim of the DEL in 2004 and 35 in his last two years in the league with Cologne. His play for Germany at the 2010 Olympics and world championships won over Leafs general manager Brian Burke. But in three NHL exhibitions, he failed to register a point and was a minus-three.

Quick Hits

Fourth-line centre Christian Hanson (shoulder) should be back in the lineup Thursday against the Canadiens, and why not? He had his first NHL goals against them in Game 82 in Montreal. Making his Leafs debut in that game was centre Tim Brent ...Canadian comedian Russell Peters asked a few hundred fans in Leafs and Wings sweaters to stay behind after Saturday’s game to film crowd scenes for his upcoming movie Breakaway, a story of an East Indian hockey team. Peters said the plot is like Bend It Like Beckham on skates and the scene featured an overtime winner by actrors playing the Leafs against the Wings ... Defenceman Tomas Kaberle had six of the Leafs 29 shots on goal Saturday.


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