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At the Rink blog

Schenn's struggles result in healthy scratch

Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 1:45 PM

By Dennis Ryan - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Schenn's struggles result in healthy scratch
The start of the season has been a dream for the League-leading Toronto Maple Leafs, but a nightmare for fourth-year defenseman Luke Schenn. The 22-year-old has slipped down the depth chart -- his normally strong defensive game plagued by a mix of poor decisions, turnovers, and bad breaks. 

He will watch from the press box Saturday night as a healthy scratch for the first time since Dec 9, 2009. The 5th selection in the 2008 Entry Draft has an even plus-minus rating this season, below par on a team with the third-best offense and second-best 5-on-5 ratio in the League.

Schenn’s slow start is in contrast to other Leafs blueliners led by captain Dion Phaneuf.  A resurgent Mike Komisarek has taken Schenn’s spot in the top four, while Schenn’s ice time has steadily decreased from 22:06 on opening night against Montreal to just 9:13 in Thursday’s 4-1 win against Columbus. Coach Ron Wilson addressed Schenn’s situation following that game.

“It’s a struggle for Luke right now, he’s got to fight through this and not get frustrated,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to figure out the best approach with Luke.”

For his part, Schenn has maintained a positive outlook, commenting on his slump earlier in the week,

"I know my opportunity will come.” Schenn said. “We've got four defensemen right now who are playing great – obviously ahead of me – and they're playing big minutes right now and obviously deservingly so.

"I'm not going to get too rattled or frustrated about it. It's part of the game. Every player goes through this, probably every year, and definitely throughout their career. You just learn how to deal with it and at the end of the day it's not a worry because I know that this isn't going to last forever."

Now banished to the press box, Schenn will need to maintain that positive attitude while Cody Franson, another promising young defenseman who has underachieved this season, enters the lineup against the Bruins. Franson, acquired in the off-season from Nashville, now has his chance to earn the trust of Wilson. Schenn meanwhile, can only sit and wait for an opportunity to get his game back on track and do the same.
Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6