Leafs' Giguere ready to play

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:26 AM ET

TORONTO - Maple Leafs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be all dressed up with nowhere to go this weekend.

The veteran is now on backup duty after coming back from his third groin injury of the season.

“If I’m called, I’m ready to play,” Giguere said Friday at the club’s optional workout at the MasterCard Centre.

But the No. 1 job is James Reimer’s for the next few games at least. When Giguere’s name is mentioned now, it’s in the context of next season’s role. With groin troubles so frequent, the Leafs won’t get many trade inquiries by Monday’s deadline and Giguere has conceded in recent days that he plans to have off-season surgery to correct the problem and wants to stay with the Leafs.

“Today I didn’t think about the injury, I did the full practice, like I would if I was healthy,” Giguere said.

He plans to be on the ice for the morning skate on Saturday prior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit, after checking with his specialist.

“I see (the doctor) once or twice a week and it’s really been helping me quite a bit,” the 33-year-old said. “I have to make sure I do the (exercises) I need to do. It’s time-consuming, but it’s necessary.”

Giguere is leaving the chance of his appearing in the second of a back-to-back in Atlanta on Sunday up to head coach Ron Wilson, but the coach was succinct.

“I can’t predict when J.S. will play again.”

TRADE CLOCK TICKING

There is less than 72 hours to the NHL trade deadline, with the Leafs still likely to do something small to bolster their depth on defence.

“I don’t know if it affects you, it’s all part of the business,” defenceman Luke Schenn said of the chatter. “But the toughest thing is losing not only teammates, but also close friends. Last year we made changes, but it was a good trade (with Calgary for fellow defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie).”

This run of 8-2-2 the Leafs are on has helped distract them from the deadline.

“In the past couple of years, we were just thinking about next year already and playing for pride,” recalled Schenn. “Now you’re in a race and it’s a lot more exciting. Obviously the fans are more excited, too.

“We’ve made up a lot of ground from a month and a half ago, but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Winger Colby Armstrong was also wary of putting the cart before the horse.

“We’re not in the playoffs and we have some big games coming up,” he reminded. “But that makes it easy to focus on this weekend and that we’re working towards something.”

MARLIE MAGIC FOR LEAFS

While he never thought to have six Marlies on the roster at this stage of the season, Wilson isn’t complaining much. The farmhands bring a renewed energy that has rubbed off on the veterans.

“All the guys we brought up are playing with a sense of urgency,” Wilson said. “They want to stay here, they want to be part of this. It has carried over to everyone else.”

The opposite sometimes can come into play when a youthful team can’t live up to expectations or, in this case, the growing heat of a playoff race. Toronto can be a cruel place to play in that respect.

“I don’t think there is an incredible amount of pressure on our guys,” Wilson said. “They’re just having fun. We’re just finding ways to win.”


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