TORONTO - There won’t be any changes between the pipes for the Maple Leafs when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre but you can expect to see one for Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
Coach Ron Wilson said after the Leafs morning skate on Thursday that barring any unforeseen circumstances J-S Giguere (5-5-2), Toronto’s No. 1 netminder who has been sidelined with a groin injury since going down against Nashville on Nov. 16, will be back in net against the Bruins at the ACC.
“We’ll see how our team plays (tonight) and obviously how the Monster (Jonas Gustavsson) plays,” Wilson said of the chance of Giguere returning on Saturday. “But right now in my mind, yeah, Jiggy’s been told to be ready for Saturday. Jonas has played a lot and he’s played great so we’ll see what happens.”
Gustavsson will be making his seventh consecutive start for the Leafs tonight. He has compiled a 2.58 GAA and .914 save percentage this season and has been one of the few consistent players for the Leafs over the stretch in which he has been the top goalie.
Toronto, meanwhile, will be trying to take advantage of an Oilers squad (8-12-4) that is playing their third game in four nights on the road and coming off wins in Ottawa and Montreal, where the Oilers rallied to knock off the Canadiens in overtime on Wednesday night.
“I watched the game last night and I think they skate very well,” Wilson said of the Oilers. “They’re going to be inconsistent at times because of their youth. If they have a really good game, like they did last night, there is a tendency to have a letdown in the next game. We want to take advantage of them because this is their third game in four nights on the road.”
Toronto (8-11-4) is coming off a day’s rest after blowing a 3-1 lead and falling 4-3 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
This game features two of the league’s worst teams – with 20 points each only two teams sit below Toronto and Edmonton – but it is also a game featuring some rising Oilers stars, including this year’s No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall and the nifty Jordan Eberle.
“It’s going to be a fast game and we know from watching them where we do have to jump on them is in their own end because a young team will struggle in their own end if we can apply the pressure in the right way and win some battles down low,” Wilson said.
The Leafs will be sticking with the same squad as they try to put the brakes on a three-game losing skid. John Mitchell will step in for the injured Mike Brown who broke a finger Tuesday night blocking a shot, while Joey Crabb will get his second start as a Leaf. You can also expect to see Brett Lebda back on the blue line.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson on the thousands of screaming school kids out to watch the Leafs morning skate on Thursday: “I said to Luke (Schenn), ‘Now you know what Justin Bieber feels like.’”