January 16, 2011
Newest Leaf Mueller's musings
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - For portions of his NHL debut on Saturday night, big German forward Marcel Mueller had that deer-in-the-headlights look.
That was to be expected for the Leafs prospect, who got his taste of the speed and intensity of the NHL game as an emergency callup with forwards Freddie Sjostrom, Kris Versteeg (injury) and Mike Brown (suspension) out of the lineup.
“I think a few times he was a little tentative,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of Mueller, who saw the ice for 12 minutes and 58 seconds. “But he had to fly cross-country last night so it really wasn’t fair for him either.”
As he usually does with a player making his debut, Wilson inserted Mueller in the starting lineup to add to the moment.
“That was nice,” Mueller said. “It is an honour to play for the Maple Leafs organization that has so much history.
“It was fun for me. It would have been better to start for a win.”
Mueller, by the way, was the 11th player in the Leafs system to suit up both for the Marlies and the big club this season. He saw a few shifts on a line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak.
“It was way faster than the AHL,” the raw prospect said when asked what the biggest difference was from his experience so far as a pro.
HELP ON ITS WAY?
If Fabian Brunnstrom keeps this up, it will be interesting to see how long before he gets the call from the Marlies.
The Swedish forward, acquired by the Leafs in a deal with the Dallas Stars, has made an immediate impact in his new organization.
Brunnstrom showed his playmaking skills with three assists in his first two games including one on Sunday in the Marlies’ 3-2 shootout win over the Abbotsford Heat.
Like the parent club, the Marlies have been hurting up front. Nazem Kadri has missed the past three games with a hip injury, although he practised briefly on Saturday and is listed as day-to-day. The Marlies’ western road trip continues Tuesday in Manitoba.
When Mikhail Grabovski was denied in the shootout on Saturday night, it was his first miss in his third attempt of the season.
The Belarusian, who had tied the game with 12.4 seconds left in regulation, said he had planned to take a slapshot on Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, but when he changed his mind, he didn’t have enough time to adjust and make one of his fancy moves.
Grabovski’s regulation goal, by the way, gave him seven on the power play this season and 18 overall, one less than team leader Kessel. Kessel missed his attempt and is now one for five in shootouts. With the loss, the Leafs slipped to 3-3 in shootouts this season.
On the plus side, forward Colby Armstrong was clearly rewarded for his strong play of late and delivered with his first shootout goal of the season in his first attempt.
It didn’t take long for goaltender James Reimer to return to action for the Marlies. After rejoining the team in B.C., Reimer got a warm welcome from his teammates in recognition of his strong play with the Leafs. On Sunday, he made five saves in the shootout to help secure the victory when Jerry D’Amigo scored the lone goal in the extra session.