Defenseman Paul Mara skated and looked fine. Mara will play this evening while ’D’ Mark Stuart will sit tonight. Meanwhile, Jeff Hoggan will play tonight for P.J. Axelsson who is still nursing a sore foot and will probably take a spot on the Kessel line as Petr Tenkrat has been playing on the Savard line.
"[Paul] is going to have a little rust on him," said Lewis. "But he’s going to be good to have back in the lineup."
The team looked ready to play after enjoying a day off earlier this week and returning to practice yesterday. There was nothing unusual about this morning’s pre game skate -- just the usual game day warm up for an evening contest.
There is no hitting or real physical contact on game day, just passing and shooting drills, some line rushes and lots of easy shots on the goalies.Talking, Talking, Goalie Talk
All three goalies participated in the session today, and Brian Finley looks as if he is coming along from his injury.Tim Thomas
was, of course, relaxed and Hannu Toivonen has looked strong enough in practice that the there is a question everyday about his availability.
"I want him to have a start," explained Head Coach Dave Lewis. "He’s not starting tonight.
"We’ve had to [play Tim Thomas
a lot] a while ago and he got into a groove. And it’s nice to be able to have a player that’s in a groove and has the ability to win hockey games for you. And that’s where Timmy’s now and Hannu is ready to go.
"It doesn’t matter where he is going to play -- he could play here or he could play on the road. I know that he wants to get into a game. He’s working hard and staying focused and doing the things that we are asking him to do.
"But now we have to get him into a game," said Lewis, who did not indicate when that start would come.
Needless to say, Tim Thomas
will make the start this evening.
"You look up on the board and you see how many points we have as compared to other teams and how many games in hand," said Thomas. "If we could take advantage of those games in hand we’re looking a lot better than I think anyone would’ve guessed at the end of October."
One reporter, noting that the Leafs and the Bruins have faced each other four times already, asked Thomas it there was any advantage to the goalie or the shooter in that situation.
"I don’t think it helps or hurts," said Thomas. "It does help somewhat [in the rare case] that we play Vancouver -- that’s always a crap shoot because I haven’t seen them at all.
In terms of seeing Toronto, Tim said that he doesn’t "need to see them as much as I have been seeing them."
Tim laughed a bit at the last bit, knowing full well the offensive firepower of the Leafs.
"Each game is different," agreed Lewis. "Each situation is different. We played them up there back-to-back with a day in between…I have no preconceived ideas about what is going to happen in tonight’s game."