With Kadri out, Frattin gets his shot

“I have to go out there and play the best two games I have had so far,” Matt Frattin says of the...

“I have to go out there and play the best two games I have had so far,” Matt Frattin says of the Leafs' upcoming home-and-home series with the Detroit Red Wings. (Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

TORONTO - Matt Frattin is prepared to strike while the iron is hot.

The hot iron, in this case, is the absence of Nazem Kadri, who will miss up to four weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

“I have to go out there and play the best two games I have had so far,” Frattin, 23, said in reference to the Leafs’ final pair of pre-season games, a home-and-home set against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and Saturday.

“I thought I was going to be the next guy to step in there. My game shows I can play on the third line (with centre Darryl Boyce and Colby Armstrong) and do that energy role, so I just have to go out there and do that this weekend.”

Kadri suffered the injury in a pre-season game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Afterward, Kadri had ice on his knee but did not indicate there was a problem. In fact, Kadri said he knew how important the set with the Wings was going to be. But an MRI on Wednesday revealed the injury, which Kadri had called “a freak accident” that occurred when he skated into the boards at Scotiabank Place.

Though the Leafs could miss what Kadri would have brought to the lineup — a scoring touch with a bit of salt and pepper — coach Ron Wilson wasn’t necessarily put off.

“I tend to procrastinate right to the last moment,” Wilson said. “Why? Because these situations with injuries pop up and seem to always occur. There is no point in speculating a week into training camp if someone is going to be on your team or not. You let them battle right to the wire. I would rather have both guys healthy, but Matt has done a really good job. He is capable of playing in any situation. That is really important for us moving forward.”

Said Frattin, “Nobody wants to sit in the press box and get the odd opportunity. For me to fill my potential, I have to play games, and that does not matter if it’s with the Marlies or the Leafs.”

Kessel sticks up for Bozak

Phil Kessel partially blames himself for Tyler Bozak’s low point total last season.

“We had a lot of good chances to score, and if I bury some more, and if he had some more, all of a sudden he ends up with 20 more points,” Kessel said Thursday. “Then people are like, ‘Wow, he had a great year.’ I thought he played well.”

Bozak finished with 32 points (15 goals and 17 assists) in 82 games. His minus-29 was the worst on the team and better than only three other players in the NHL. Often, Bozak was hard on himself for not finishing scoring chances.

Kessel had 32 goals and added 32 assists in 82 games.

With Tim Connolly injured and out of the lineup for the final two pre-season games, Kessel and Bozak could be reunited again, but Bozak won’t play on Friday night in Detroit against the Red Wings. Bozak has been centring a line in practice between Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

Kessel, meanwhile, has been dealing with a tight groin.

“It’s all right, a little sore,” Kessel said. “But that’s part of hockey.”


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