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Battle Of The Brothers

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Oh, brother.

The legion of fans obsessed with the Schenn brothers will feast tonight as Luke and Brayden Schenn square off when the Leafs play the Flyers at Air Canada Centre.

But that’s not the only coupling.

Brothers Phil and Blake Kessel will face each other as well.

“I played against Brayden for one year in junior, I was 18 and he was 16,” said Luke. “This is a totally different level even if it is an exhibition game we still get the chance to play against each other. The day he was traded to Philadelphia (from Los Angeles in the Mike Richards deal) we were looking to today.”

“It’ll probably he hard on the Schenn and Kessel moms if they get a chance to watch the game,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson who was approached in the off-season by Luke asking for a matchup against Brayden.  “I can’t imagine that happening. I think some of our players are joking that they are going to hit his brother and see if they can get to Phil.”

The possibility of bringing Brayden Schenn, one of the game’s bright young talents to Toronto has long been a talking point for Leafs fans.  It looks like tonight and the teams’ five regular season games will have to suffice.

Originally selected by the Islanders in the sixth round of the 2007 entry draft, Kessel is a defenceman who played his last two seasons at the University of New Hampshire.

No one knows for sure but this might be the first time two brothers faced each other in Toronto in the same game.

Meanwhile, the Leafs first line of Phil Kessel, Tim Connolly and Joffrey Lupul will debut tonight.

Connolly will run the Leafs power play as well after John-Michael Liles stylishly handled that chore in Monday’s win over Ottawa.

“We want to experiment with Tim. He’s got a bomb of a shot and we want to see how we can use him on the power play,” Wilson said. “Plus, this is a chance to get Nazem (Kadri) more involved in the power play.”

Kadri is coming off an excellent performance in Monday’s preseason opener. While Tyler Bozak’s two goals stole the headlines, Kadri’s catchy performance and solid work from Jake Gardiner were the main storylines.

Jeff Finger, Mike Komisarek, Cody Franson, Mike Zigomanis, Colton Orr, Luca Caputi, Marcel Mueller, Daryl Boyce, Jesse Blacker, Greg Scott, and Simon Gysbers will also make their debut.

Look for James Reimer to go the distance in his preseason debut and while he was an outsider in the goaltending derby last year, Reimer says nothing much has changed.

“I just want to stop the puck out there,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter what the circumstance are.  I want to get in front of as many shots as I can.”

Notes: Wilson reviewed the league’s new video on head shots to introduce his players to the league’s revamped guidelines for blows to the head. .. Joe Colborne gets another game tonight. He played only passably in his debut. What struck Colborne most in the opener?  How about the work of Liles working the power play?  Colborne is back at centre, his more natural position tonight between Marcel Mueller and Clarke MacArthur.…Swedish rookie Mark Owuya will back up Reimer. ..Unlike Schenn, Phil Kessel was left conflicted by the prospect of playing his brother. “It’s just another game but actually I am really excited about it,” he said…The Leafs will unveil their first round of cuts on Wednesday. All six defencemen playing tonight are right-hand shots. Hockey wisdom usually dictates that a left and a right hand shot are preferable.
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