February 21, 2012
Gunnarsson back from injury
By DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
The Maple Leafs won’t have any new faces in the lineup when they start their four-game homestand on Tuesday night, but there will be a familiar one back on the ice.
While the Leafs (29-24-6) hadn’t made any blockbuster deals – or any small ones for that matter – as of noon Tuesday, coach Ron Wilson did confirm after the morning skate that defenceman Carl Gunnarsson would be returning to the lineup to face the New Jersey Devils (34-20-4).
Gunnarsson missed the Leafs’ three-game western road swing in which the team went 1-2 – including two blowout losses – after he was hurt during practice on Feb. 13 when he fell awkwardly into the boards during a drill.
“It’s probably not 100% yet but, you know, way better than it was,” Gunnarsson said of his ankle injury. “I feel good, in practice yesterday I felt OK and in today’s skate, too, I feel fine.”
The Leafs, who have lost five of six and are clinging to eighth place in the East, should get a boost from Gunnarsson’s return. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Swede leads the team in blocked shots with 124 and is second in average ice-time per game at 22:11.
Toronto can also breathe a sigh of relief that Joffrey Lupul will play Tuesday night. Lupul, the team leader in assists and second overall in points, missed Monday’s practice with a sore ankle of his own but Wilson also said Lupul would be playing.
Gritty forward Joey Crabb will rejoin the lineup after being a healthy scratch in a 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday. Crabb will take the place of Colby Armstrong.
Forward Jay Rosehill and defenceman Mike Komisarek will remain healthy scratches.
Jonas Gustavsson gets the start in net.