Leafs coach happy to see Hanson

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

With so many big, aggressive forwards out of the Toronto lineup, the appearance of 6-foot-4 Christian Hanson in Boston on Tuesday morning was a welcome relief to coach Ron Wilson.

“He adds size to our lineup, which some nights is a struggle for us,” Wilson said before the game against the Bruins Tuesday.

“He’s played well (29 points in 44 games with the Marlies) and he has probably deserved to get called up a little earlier than this. But here is an opportunity for him. He’s not (expected to play) above what he can do. He can help on the penalty kill, he has to finish his checks. He’s a good skater. Each time a guy comes up, he adds a little more experience for us.”

Hanson must have wondered if he would see the other side of the Gardiner Expressway this season after the Leafs demoted him Nov. 12, after three games and a few nights in the press box. Last season he played 31 games.

“You never know what’s in the cards,” Hanson said. “Just go out and play and when it’s your time, it’s your time. The only way you dictate that is by what you do on the ice.”

Hanson played centre between Alex Foster and Marcel Mueller with the Marlies when he was pulled off their west coast trip and told to get to the other side of the continent.

“I enjoyed it on that line, Mueller’s a big body down low and Fozzie is an energy player. I just need to be strong defensively here, get pucks out and play the body. The coaches, Dallas Eakins, Derek King and Gord Dineen have been unbelievable with player development down there.”

BEAR NECESSITIES

The Bruins have been dropping the gloves a lot lately and burly winger Milan Lucic isn’t too upset about it. Adjusting an imaginary halo, he insisted the B’s are “just sticking up for themselves.”

“You look at the Dallas game and the Montreal game and think maybe a bit of that Big, Bad Bruins thing has come back,” Lucic said, chuckling. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve always been a tough team. Whatever happened in those games happened. It’s kind of nice having that repertoire in our game, I guess. It’s a lot of fun playing like that, but we’re a team that’s not going to take any crap.”

“We play a grittier style of game than we did last year,” added winger Shawn Thornton. “The last few games are pretty evident of that.”

But it hasn’t hurt Lucic that he also is filling the net. His 23 goals are the most by a Bruin since Marco Sturm in 2008-09.

“I’m shooting more and that’s why I’m scoring more,” he said. “With the year I had (in 2009-10), all the injuries and scoring just nine goals, I took a step back. I really wanted to come into this year I wanted to be a factor every night.

“Playing with Nathan Horton and David Krejci is always a great thing. I feel better, more confident around the net.”

MUSCLE FOR KESSEL

The consensus was Kris Versteeg was a poor match for Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak. Big Joffrey Lupul hopes to be the catalyst for the slumping Kessel, who was 0-for-14 in goals heading into Tuesday.

“He’s hit a bump and those things happen,” Lupul said. “It’s exciting to be on his line right now. I’ve watched him throughout his career. It will be exciting when he breaks out of it. It won’t be one goal, it’s probably going to be a bunch coming in a row.”

LOOSE LEAFS

After securing a place to stay on Sunday, new Leaf Lupul went shopping for some warm clothes. “I had a little bag of clothes with me from California, so I went out and got a new wardrobe. I got some gloves and sweaters. Now I’m all set.” ... Not only are the Bruins leading the Northeast, Boston College is ranked first in the NCAA in the USA Today poll. Before a sellout crowd at TD Garden on Monday, they beat Northeastern 7-6 in overtime to win the Beanpot tournament. They are 21-6-0 overall.


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