TORONTO - Maple Leafs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere felt and looked in mid-season form Monday in his first full practice since suffering a mild groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup the past five games.
That said, coach Ron Wilson says he won’t be rushed back into the lineup, especially with the strong recent play of Jonas Gustavsson.
“I have to talk to the trainers, and the trainers have to talk to the coaches — a lot of people have to talk to a lot of people,” Giguere said with a laugh. “(Monday) was a great test. I think physically I’m ready, it’s just a matter of am I ready to play a full game.”
Wilson said he’d like to see Giguere hold up through a week of practice before he commits to returning him to the roster.
“He’s got to get through a number of practices,” Wilson said. “He’s had groin injuries in the past and I want him to be 100% when he goes back in there, not 99% where there is a risk of re-injuring his groin and prolonging his comeback.”
Across the hallway from the Leafs practice rink, the early roster for Team Canada’s world junior championship entry was being announced, which brought back fond memories of not so long ago for defenceman Luke Schenn.
“To get on the world stage, your first kind of heavy competition and you play against the best players in the world to see how you match up ... it’s huge,” said Schenn, who won gold for Canada in 2008 and silver in 2009. “A lot of players move on to the NHL the next few years so it’s a step in the right direction to measure yourself.
“Getting a chance to represent your country, there’s no feeling like it. For me personally, when you think about Canada at Christmas time, the world juniors comes to mind. It brings Canada together.”
EGG FOR McKEGG
The morning started strong for Leafs prospect Greg McKegg when the Erie Otters forward was named the OHL’s player of the week for the second time this season.
The afternoon wasn’t so positive, however, when the St. Thomas, Ont., native learned he was not among those invited to Canada’s selection camp.
McKegg’s last chance to make an impression on Team Canada staff was an impressive one that included a four-goal game against Belleville.
“Maybe they should’ve held off one more week before making the announcement,” McKegg joked to QMI Agency’s Ryan Pyette, “because I was in a slump before that.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing. You always want to be part of something like that. The world juniors, it’s a national pastime watching it on TV and you want to given that kind of opportunity. It would be a dream to play in it and I’m disappointed I won’t be part of it.”
Captain Dion Phaneuf (leg) and forward Colby Armstrong (hand) both skated prior to practice again. Armstrong joined the team for early drills, leaving some 20 minutes in, but was handling the puck lightly .... Forward Kris Versteeg on the latest line-shuffling: “It tries to bring new energy to different guys to see if they can mesh with other guys. It’s just rolling the dice and seeing if something can come from it.” ... Gustavsson never got a chance to represent Sweden in the world juniors because in his final year of eligibility, the Monster broke his ankle playing soccer ... Five of the Leafs’ next seven games are at home before they depart on a three-game Western Canada road trip