|Callups James Reimer and Keith Aulie discuss the penalty kill drill during Leafs practice. (Dave Abel/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - One of the strengths the Leafs felt they had going into season was their depth in net. So when Jean-Sebastien Giguere was sidelined with a mild groin strain on Tuesday, the team had options for a temporary replacement.
Rookie Jussi Rynnas has been on fire lately and was named the AHL’s player of the week recently, while James Reimer has been solid as well including a strong training camp with the big team. When it came time to decide which one to recall from the Marlies, the Leafs opted for experience.
“Rynnas has played unbelievable,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said on Wednesday. “Reimer had a great year last year and was very good in training camp and deserves the call right now.”
What a difference a period loaded with six power play opportunities can make for a team that had been struggling with the man advantage.
The four-goal power play outburst saw the Leafs rocket from 26th in the league prior to Tuesday’s play to 18th when it ended.
A big reason for the improvement was moving Kris Versteeg to the point on the power play and the struggling forward responded with his first multi-goal game as a Leaf.
“It kind of answers your question why I had Versteeg on the point on the power play,” Wilson said. “We needed some offence back there and he’s a right-handed shot. I hope his confidence gets the boost it needed with those two goals.”
The Leafs were four for eight on the power play on Tuesday after only four goals in their previous 45 attempts.
“We have guys on the power play that have been a little snakebit but we came out and proved that when we are moving the puck well and moving our feet we are very dangerous,” Versteeg said. “It can’t be a one-game thing.”
TWO SIDES OF GRABOVSKI
Quite the up-and-down night for Mikhail Grabovski, who essentially set up two Nashville goals on Tuesday.
On the plus side, the Belarusian won 11 of 13 faceoffs and was a big part of the power play that turned the game around in the second period.
“He had an awful period and stuck with it and turned his game around,” Wilson said. “He won almost every power play faceoff and was a big reason we were successful.”
After a miserable start to his season, Grabovski has five points in his last three games and nine in his last seven giving him 13 on the season, second on the team.
Defenceman Francois Beauchemin left Wednesday’s practice shortly after it began, while centre Tim Brent didn’t skate at all. Wilson described their absence as a maintenance during a busy week for the team. Brent blocked a shot on Tuesday ... A bizarre night for forward Clarke MacArthur. Despite his three assists, he was minus four on the night because power plays don’t factor into that stat ... Nazem Kadri on his first career NHL point on Tuesday: “My first point in the NHL is something I’m going to cherish. I’m proud of it, but hopefully it’s one of many to come.” ... The Leafs and Devils meet for the first time this season after a season split of the 2009-10 series. The home team won all four games ... Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is expected to get the start. He didn’t play in either contest in Toronto last season.