|Joey Crabb grimaces during Toronto Maple Leafs training camp held at Master Card Centre in Toronto, September 19, 2010. (Alex Urosevic/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - He isn’t exactly Steven Stamkos, but to help ignite their dormant offence the Maple Leafs have called up their leading scorer from the Toronto Marlies.
Joey Crabb will get his first taste of NHL action with the Leafs when he suits up Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre against the league’s top goal scorer Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning (13-8-3).
Crabb, who has nine goals and three assists in 23 games with the Marlies this season, will play on the second line with Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski.
“He’s played very well for the Marlies and we think he can provide some energy,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger after the team’s morning skate.
“He’s an excellent skater. He’s really had only one other opportunity to play for any stretch in the NHL and he did a pretty good job in Atlanta (29 games two seasons ago). He’s been a character guy for the Marlies most of this year … For the Marlies, at least, he’s a presence in front of the net and that’s what we’re going to ask him to do.”
Toronto (8-11-3) needs some kind of spark to get its offence going after coming off back-to-back losses in which it managed just one goal. The Leafs have put just 48 pucks into opposing nets this season, third worst in the league.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been up so I’m just going to out there and try to have fun and bring a little energy,” said Crabb, who came to the Leafs in the off-season via free agency after being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks from the Atlanta Thrashers in June.
“I’m just going to work hard for the team and hit some guys.”
The Lightning meanwhile have scored 73 times, with 21 of those goals coming off the stick of Stamkos. So not only do the Leafs have to worry about finding a way to score, they have to find a way to stop Stamkos from doing the same if they hope to win their fourth straight at the ACC.
Tampa Bay sniper and Markham native Steven Stamkos on playing in front of friends and family at the ACC: “I’ve been able to do it a couple of times now, so I know what to expect. It’s always fun with all the media. It’s a lot different than in Tampa … It’s always nice to come back here.”
Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur on Stamkos’ quest for 50 goals in 50 games: “I remember the other day after a game I was looking on the ticker and it said it was his 20th goal. Oh my God, that’s a good season right there.”