Leafs Game Day: Newbies join lineup

LANCE HORNBY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET

TORONTO - Before the Maple Leafs can get into the playoff neighbourhood, they have to get out of the Northeast Division baserment.

That difficult process starts Thursday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit and on Saturday when the Ottawa Senators follow the Habs to the Air Canada Centre.

“Divisonal games are huge,” Toronto defenceman Mike Komisarek said Thursday morning as the Leafs prepared for the gala opening night. “You want those points and in the first 10 games last year, we only had one or two of them.”

The Leafs will start Jean-Sebastien Giguere tonight, while Montreal, after a day of fretting about a flu bug hampering Carey Price, will likely go with him after he made it to pratice on Thursday.

The Leafs have a number of new players in the lineup and are once more vowing to be an intimidating team to make up for their offensive shortcomings. But Komisarek doesn’t want the public mis-led.

“We’re not all about being mean and physical and truculent,” Komisarek said. “People talk about that, but we have a lot of talented, speedy forwards that go under the radar here.

“Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel had a great pre-season and with the additions of Clarke MacArthur, Mike Brown and Kris Versteeg, it’s an exciting group of forwards who scored a lot in pre-season.”

Centres Mike Zigomanis and Tim Brent will also be making their Leaf debuts. Top gun Mike Cammalleri is a scratch for Montreal, with Lars Eller taking his place on the first line.

Leaf defenceman Matt Lashoff was expected to clear waivers Thursday and be assigned to the Marlies, while coach Ron Wilson said that defenecman Jeff Finger should be ready to play in a few days after a knee injury.

LEAFS LINEUP:

Goal
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Jonas Gustvasson

Defence
Dion Phaneuf, Francois Beauchemin
Mike Komisarek, Carl Gunnarsson
Luke Schenn, Tomas Kaberle

Forwards
Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovksi, Nikolai Kulemin
Fredrik Sjostrom, Tim Brent, Colby Armstrong
Mike Brown, Mike Zigomanis, Colton Orr


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