The Maple Leafs will bring the same Manitoba-flavoured lineup, but with one notable twist for Tuesday’s game against the Jets.
Coach Randy Carlyle worked Matt Frattin on to the left wide of the Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin duo at the morning skate and not because he thought Frattin needed to brush up on his Russian. Carlyle thought Frattin exhibited some “rust” in Saturday’s return from knee surgery in a loss to Pittsburgh, while the two Eastern Europeans are looking for a kick-start as well.
“That’s just to give you guys something to talk about,” teased Carlyle of his planned move. “Every coach would like all four lines scoring, making some kind of contribution along the way. Even from the back end. (Defencemen) play a lot of minutes and they play on the power play.”
The switch requires Frattin to go from right to left wing and for the versatile Leo Komarov to re-join Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur. Carlyle noted that he tried Frattin with Gravovski and Kulemin upon arriving late last season.
“(With Frattin) out of the lineup three-plus weeks, that’s difficult and we understand that,” Carlyle said. “He’s an offensive player who has to be physical to be effective. We saw some signs of rust the other night and we’re going to continue to push him. We’d like to see the Kulemin line make more contributions, but we’ve also put them in some tough situations (as a top-line checking unit).
The Jets return home after getting points in three of four road games, but with some wild inconsistencies that have bugged coach Claude Noel. Noel said forward Alexander Burmistrov would be a game time decision after a high profile benching on Sunday in New Jersey. Noel, too, is looking for the elusive scoring consistency from a team that’s hung around the top eight playoff teams but thus far is stuck on the perimeter. A win on Tuesday could change that - and give the Leafs a season-high third consecutive loss.
“We’re getting the goaltending and defending well,” Noel noted. “But we have what we have and I’m not sitting here putting pressure on our third and fourth lines, saying you have to score.”
At 4-6 at the MTS CEntre, the Jets have the fewest home points in the NHL, despite all the talk about this being one of the most electric places to play in the league. The Leafs, with a 9-5 record on the road, would like to add to that home misery.
“We know this building can get pretty rowdy so we want to take it to them in the first five or 10 minutes,” Kadri said. “Whenever you play a team behind you in the standings, you want to jump a couple of more ahead.”
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