Leafs’ Marincin Put on Injured Reserve
In a development that might see marginalized defenceman Frank Corrado get another shot, Martin Marincin was put on injured reserve on Friday.
The suspected lower back trauma he suffered a week ago turned out to be more serious than first thought and he’ll be out the next four to six weeks. Marincin went backwards hard into the base of the boards in Boston last Saturday.
“Initially, we were told it was nothing,” said head coach Mike Babcock. “Now it’s a lot more. It’s unfortunate it happened (but) somebody gets an opportunity because of it.”
Right now that’s Connor Carrick, who stepped into Marincin’s spot with Jake Gardiner. But with two sets of back-to-back games coming up in the next two weeks, Corrado is currently the only one on deck as the seventh defenceman.
That’s if comments about Babcock not liking him don’t haunt him. Justifiably upset at playing just one of 29 games, Corrado decided to go public with how tired he is of being in “No Man’s Land”. He believes GM Lou Lamoriello is in his corner, but Babcock is not using him.
Babcock denied that a personality clash was behind the decision to keep Corrado in dry dock. He said the two have talked and would speak again about his concerns, but by going through the media, Corrado might have given the team impetus to waive or trade him.
JHONAS WITNESSES RETURN
After all the speculation that Jhonas Enroth was through as back-up goalie, the club quietly swapped out Antoine Bibeau Friday afternoon and brought Enroth back from the Marlies.
The move appeared to be based on a couple of factors, Karri Ramo’s ordinary play thus far while on his PTO with the Marlies (0-3, an .880 save percentage) and the need to get young Bibeau playing regularly again. Bibeau did get his long-awaited first NHL game — a shootout loss — but there is only one back-to-back on the horizon until after Christmas.
Enroth was put on waivers after four losses, all on the end of back-to-backs. The Marlies play at the ACC Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Albany.
CENTRE Of ATTENTION
Babcock says being around Sidney Crosby at the World Cup showed why the Pittsburgh star isn’t just a presence on the ice. “He’s matured into a great spokesperson for the league,” Babcock said. “He’s a model citizen, treats people right so that gives you the power to speak for the league and the players as well.”
THEMS THE BREAKS
Asked about the Leafs recent difficulties in the shootout, goalie Frederik Andersen said it’s apples and oranges sometimes when facing a breakaway in regulation versus the three freebies that come in the tiebreaker.
“In breakaways in the game, you’re more in the flow of (action),” Andersen said. “In shootout, (the skaters) have all day to figure out what they want to do.”
It was thanks to Andersen and Arizona’s Mike Smith that Thursday’s game went beyond 65 minutes. They stopped a combined 32 shots in the third period and overtime. When the thrilling five minutes of 3-on-3 was up, Andersen and Smith gave each other a whack on the pads out of mutual respect as they passed, not usually observed in an intense hockey game.
“Good job, I guess,” laughed Andersen of what was said as they met. “I think everyone wanted to keep the overtime going. All the fans probably loved to see more of that, especially going back and forth. Everyone’s on the edge of their seats. That was a fun one.”
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AT MAPLE LEAFS
7 p.m., Air Canad Centre
TV: HNIC RADIO: Sportsnet 590
THE BIG MATCH-UP
Pens C Sidney Crosby vs. Leafs C Auston Matthews
Though Nazem Kadri will likely be shadowing Sid, always interesting to compare two No. 1 overalls. Crosby leads the NHL in goals but Matthews’ 14 is tops on the Leafs. His wingers, Zach Hyman and William Nylander can also generate excitement.
Keys To The Game
1. Better home cooking
Last line change, friendly crowds and all the comforts of home have meant very little to the Leafs the past three games of this five-night stand. As coach Mike Babcock has warned “after this, we’re on the road forever”, so time to get two points on Bay St. instead of one or none.
2. Fourth and goal?
It might not be Pittsburgh‘s big guns that hurt the Leafs. Babcock is wary of Matt Cullen’s line with Scott Wilson and Erik Kuhnhackl who are utilized in defensive zone situations and who could turn the tables if the Leafs revert to sloppy ways.
3. Third is the word
While Toronto and Pittsburgh are nearly matched in shots per game at the top of the NHL and nearly equal in first and second period goals, there is a 19-goal differential in the third in favour of the Pens.
4. Polak powered
Defenceman Roman Polak is throwing his weight around more than ever, pushing the envelope sometimes with hits near the boards, but leading the Leafs with seven on Thursday. They need him to slow down the free wheeling visitors.
5. More advantage
Pittsburgh’s power play is not just over the magic number of 20%, they win more draws with the extra man than most teams. The Leafs have been trying to do more in the circles overall and had one of their best games against the Coyotes.