November 30, 2011
Wilson tight-lipped about Leafs lineup
By DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
Coach Ron Wilson was keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre.
When asked after the Maple Leafs’ morning skate if forward David Steckel and defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, both of whom suffered hand injuries Friday night against the Dallas Stars, would be back in the lineup to face the Bruins, Wilson replied, “I’m pretty optimistic right now, yeah.”
Both players were on the ice for the morning skate and looked capable of playing tonight.
When asked if a return by Steckel would mean rookie Joe Colborne sitting, Wilson replied in an irritated tone, “I’m not going to comment, these are game-time decisions.”
One thing is certain: If Steckel returns to the lineup, a forward will have to come out. But the 21-year-old Colborne, who has recorded one goal and four points in five games since being called up from the Marlies, says it won’t be him.
“Yup,” Colborne replied from his stall in the Leafs dressing room when asked if he would be playing tonight.
So if Colborne’s not out, who is? Normally it would be Jay Rosehill, who played Sunday against Anaheim. But Wilson might want Rosehill’s muscle in the lineup against the Big Bad Bruins. So it’s wait and see.
As for a return by Gunnarsson, the likely candidates to sit are either Cody Franson or Keith Aulie, and judging by his buoyant mood after the skate, it won’t be Franson.
One thing does seem certain, Jonas Gustavsson, who has won his past four starts, will get the call tonight. He was already out of his equipment and sitting at his stall talking to reporters while James Reimer and Ben Scrivens continued to work out on the ice.
Regardless of whom Wilson dresses, the Leafs, on a three-game win streak, are going to be in for a tough test against defending Boston, 11-0-1 in its past 12 games, as the two teams battle for supremacy in the Northeast Division. Toronto (14-8-2) has been out-scored by the Bruins (14-7-1) 13-2 in the past two meetings.
“We have to be a little more confident, a little more competitive,” Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said. “The first couple of games we played these guys, for some reason we don’t think we can beat them and that’s not the case. I mean we’re the team that’s up at the top of the standings here. We obviously have a lot of respect for them, they’re the Stanley Cup champs and that should just make it all the more reason that we just want to beat them.”
One good piece of news for the Leafs, who have been battered by injuries of late, is that forward Colby Armstrong appears to be closing in on a return. Armstrong worked out on his own Wednesday morning and Wilson said, “He’s a week to 10 days from being ready to play.”
“He’s working on his conditioning. I don’t think he’s 100% there, even with his ankle.”