COLUMBUS - For all of his struggles, Luke Schenn maintained his belief in himself is steadfast.
“I still feel really good mentally and physically and have not lost any confidence or anything like that,” the Maple Leafs defenceman said on Thursday morning. “You want to play more, but I don’t think it is going to last forever.”
Schenn played a personal-low 10 minutes during a 5-3 Toronto win in New Jersey against the Devils on Wednesday, and unlike the rest of his healthy teammates, was on the ice at Nationwide Arena for an optional skate on Thursday.
Only goalies James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, along with usual healthy scratches Cody Franson, Colton Orr and Jay Rosehill, skated.
Coach Ron Wilson did not talk to reporters, but the expectation is Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal against the Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Reimer, who suffered concussion-like symptoms after he was hit in the head against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 22, again did not talk to the media.
Franson was on the ice long after Schenn went off, so there’s almost a zero chance he would replace Schenn in the lineup.
Schenn said he is not frustrated, even though he often is clearly fighting the puck.
“No, the team is winning right now,” Schenn said. “I’m trying to help whichever way I can and try to contribute. In my second year, compared to what it’s like now, I was playing less minutes. The difference is I actually did lose confidence then.”
The Leafs will take on a Blue Jackets team that was brutal through the first month, but has some confidence themselves after beating Anaheim on Sunday. Columbus has two wins and five points, the fewest of any team in the NHL.
The Leafs, meanwhile, would take over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference if they beat the Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have 18 points to Toronto’s 17, lose in regulation against the San Jose Sharks.
One problem for the Blue Jackets has been the third period, when they have been out-scored 17-9.
“It has been really tough,” Rick Nash, who is two points shy of becoming the first Blue Jacket to record 500 points with the club, said of the Jackets’ start as a whole.
“I don’t think anyone planned on having a start like this, never seen it. But it’s reality now. We have lots of games left, lots of time to make a difference, but it’s shocking, the start we have had.”