January 17, 2012
Gardiner is in but who's out?
By DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
To help nip a two-game slide in the bud, the Maple Leafs are shaking up their lineup for Tuesday night’s Battle of Ontario against the Ottawa Senators.
Tyler Bozak is back from a suspected shoulder injury that caused him to miss seven games and will skate between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul on the top line, while, as expected, James Reimer will man the Leafs' net at the Air Canada Centre and defenceman Jake Gardiner will play for the first time in four games.
In a move that was not completely unexpected, the Leafs are also planning to dress tough guy Jay Rosehill who has not suited up in 14 contests. With Rosehill coming in to provide some added muscle against the physical Senators (25-16-6), forward Nazem Kadri will be a healthy scratch.
The big question is who will Gardiner replace on the blue line?
Coach Ron Wilson was keeping his cards close to his chest after the Leafs’ morning skate on Tuesday, only replying a “defenceman” when asked who would come out of the lineup in favour of Gardiner.
A safe bet, though, would be either Luke Schenn or Mike Komisarek.
Schenn, who was one of the last players to come off the ice, told media he didn’t know whether he would be playing or not.
“I really don’t know,” Schenn said. “Nobody has told me anything.”
Rosehill will skate on the fourth line with David Steckel and Mike Brown. The third line will consist of Tim Connolly at centre with Joey Crabb and Matthew Lombardi on the wings.
With the Leafs (22-17-5) sitting in ninth spot in the East, the significance of this game against their Northeast Division rival was not lost on Wilson.
“The game is big, every game against a division opponent is a big game and that’s how you view it,” Wilson said.
“We have to play a complete game from start to finish, get a good start and make sure we’re in a good position when Ottawa seems to have a knack for pushing things really hard in the third period, we’ve got to make sure we’re in a position that that’s what they have to do and we’re ready to counter that.”
One thing leaning in the Leafs’ favour is that they are rested, not having played since Saturday, while the fifth-place Senators are coming off their first shutout loss of the season, a 2-0 defeat to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.
“We think they’ll come in and play hard,” Lupul said. “They lost last night, it’s a big game for them. Looking at the standings, it’s probably a bigger game for us. We’ve had a couple of games to get ready and we should be the faster team.”
It’s a big game for Reimer who would likely get another shot in net if he plays well against the Senators. He hasn’t played since a New Year’s Eve loss to the Jets, but has had success against Ottawa, going 3-0-1 with a 1.97 goals against average in four career starts.
“All I want to do is just win tonight and see what happens,” Reimer said. “Just play well tonight and give the boys a chance to win and not think about anything else.”
Craig Anderson will get the start in goal for the Senators.