Maple Leafs Notebook: Dupuis on Waivers, Injured Players Set to Return & More
(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
By Lukas Hardonk (@LukasHardonk)
There was plenty of news to go around Leaf Nation on Monday. From waivers to injured players to interesting practice strategies, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a rather eventful day. For all the day’s news and some added opinion, read on.
Leafs place Dupuis on waivers
It was announced on Monday morning that the Maple Leafs had placed forward Philippe Dupuis on waivers. Dupuis was unable to produce and wasn’t helping the league’s worst penalty kill whatsoever, making the move a no-brainer.
In 30 games this season, Dupuis didn’t manage to register a single point and owned a minus-2 rating to go along with 16 penalty minutes. This is one reason why the move was made, according to head coach Ron Wilson.
The move seems to be a reasonable one; what’s the point of keeping around a guy who wasn’t getting to job done offensively and was struggling to fill his role as a solid penalty killer? This means more ice time is probably on the way for Darryl Boyce, although that may be negated by a returning player.
Brown, Komisarek likely to return on the weekend
The Leafs have just two games this week before they host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, which is likely to mark the return of both Mike Brown and Mike Komisarek.
Brown, 26, hasn’t played since November 15 against the Phoenix Coyotes when he suffered a back injury, while Komisarek has been out since November 17 with a broken arm. If Komisarek does play on Saturday, he will have returned just short of the eight weeks that he was expected to miss.
Both players should provide a solid boost in their respective roles. For Brown, it will be a matter of getting back to the energy role that he has played ever since he joined the Maple Leafs. With the Leafs’ struggles on the penalty kill, he may see some shorthanded ice time as well.
Komisarek, meanwhile, will need to get back to game speed. If not, he won’t be able to shut down opposing players and will end up taking stupid penalties instead.
It may be possible to get both into the lineup earlier, but Wilson says that he wants Brown and Komisarek to participate in a few more practices first.
Penalty kill a focus at practice, again
Now killing penalties at just 72.3 percent─the worst percentage in the league─the Leafs are doing everything that they can to fix what has gone wrong.
Of course confidence has to be one of the main reasons for the Leafs’ penalty killing troubles. That’s why Wilson wants his penalty killers to avoid hitting the ice with a “sense of dread.” That’s not all, though.
The Leafs spent some extra time on penalty killing strategies during practice on Monday, even going as far as bringing out a large rope to help with shot blocking. The added work didn’t stop there, with all goalies and defencemen spending a little more time on the ice following practice.
This is something that the Maple Leafs must straighten out as soon as possible. If they can’t fix the penalty kill, watch for them to miss the playoffs once again.
Gustavsson likely to start Tuesday
With the defensive struggles comes a goalie controversy, and that’s exactly what the Maple Leafs have.
It appears as though Jonas Gustavsson will get the start between the pipes on Tuesday night when the Leafs play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that doesn’t mean he is the team’s No. 1.
With so much going wrong at the moment, why not make a switch? You must keep in mind, though, that Reimer remains the team’s No. 1 goalie. It is up to him to regain his confidence.
Lines at practice
Below are the forward lines that were in action during Monday’s practice, courtesy of TSN’s Mark Masters.
Joffrey Lupul – Tim Connolly – Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb – Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur – Matthew Lombardi – Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce – David Steckel – Matt Frattin
Follow Lukas on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage.