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Big Weekend Ahead For Leafs

by Matt Iaboni / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs were back at MasterCard Centre Friday after an eight-day road trip that saw them play four games over that span finishing with a 2-2-0 record.

The full team was on the ice for just 30 minutes with back-to-back games this weekend. Saturday the Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins who have won five straight and Sunday they are in Ottawa to face the Senators.

After being on the ice for just 10 minutes Friday, Phil Kessel left the ice but there is no concern for head coach Ron Wilson.

“I expect him to play tomorrow,” Wilson said. “He is a little banged up but the way he is playing he doesn’t really have to practice.”

Jonas Gustavsson will get his third straight start Saturday against the Penguins.  If Marc-Andre Fleury is in net for the Penguins it will be a good challenge for the Leafs netminder who also went up against countryman Henrik Lundqvist on Thursday.

“That makes you want to play even better you know you have to play good to compete against them,” Gustavsson said. “They don’t allow a lot of goals so you have to be ready.”

Wilson said that he didn’t have an update on injured goalie James Reimer but that he won’t be in the lineup Saturday.

“I expect him to be ready for Sunday,” Wilson noted. “He worked off the ice today.”

The line of Mike Brown, David Steckel and Philippe Dupuis has been very successful for the Leafs. All three are a big part of the penalty-killing unit and they all know their roles on the team. In the win over the Rangers the line combined for nine hits and they all played over 10 minutes.

A day after his dismantling of Kris Newbury and his goal, Brown was the talk of practice with Wilson noting the importance of his third-period tally.

“For me it was a huge goal although it doesn’t look like it at the time but when they made it 4-2 that two-goal cushion made us more relaxed on the bench,” Wilson added.

Brown was his usual down to earth self when the media mobbed him after practice.

“I play that hard game and I’m going to fight when I need to and get the energy in the game,” he said. “The odd time that I get a goal is a bonus.”

His fight with Newbury is still all the rage on Twitter with his teammates Colby Armstrong (@armdog), Joffrey Lupul (@jlupul) and Wilson (@coachrw63) all getting in on the act. For some great tweets check out #brownbeaut.

Brown is a fan favourite in Toronto first because of his handlebar moustache and now for his two great fights this season.

The objective last night was simple:

“Put the head down and throw,” he said.

How are his hands feeling a day later?

“Definitely a little sore but it was all in good fun.”

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