With the Leafs set to host the New York Rangers Thursday at ACC, defenceman Brett Lebda will be suiting up for just his second game of the season after missing the first four with a shoulder injury suffered against Philadelphia in the preseason.
The smooth skating blueliner was quite effective in his first game against the Islanders on Tuesday. He wasn’t sure how he would do after missing so much time but he was pleased with his first outing.
“I didn’t get many preseason games in and I think you might worry that you’re not ready, but I felt good and I just kept the game simple,” Lebda said.
Paired with the rugged Mike Komisarek
, Lebda won’t be called upon to be the one throwing out big hits, but he frees up his partner to do so which he feels will make for a strong pairing.
“When you have a good pairing, you can play off each other’s strengths and you can help each other with their weaknesses and I think we go well with each other.”
Head coach Ron Wilson was very happy in what he saw in Lebda’s first regular season game.
“I loved the way he played in terms of moving the puck and skating with it,” Wilson said.
When they skated out on the ice Tuesday, it wasn’t the first time they had played together. Both players came up through the Under-18 USA National Team and they also were on the same U.S. team at the 2002 World Junior Championships.
Lebda knows that his job is to keep the puck moving and he doesn’t expect his game to change now that he has joined a new team.
“It always has been my game. I shouldn’t stray away from doing anything different, getting back, moving the puck to our forwards and let them do the work,” he said.
Even though he didn’t get much of a chance to work with the power play unit during the preseason, Lebda did see a few shifts on the power play Tuesday and he hopes to see more time in the future.
Coming from a team like Detroit, Lebda didn’t get a real chance with all the star players they had but he feels he will get the chance here in Toronto.
“As the year goes on I hope to get more time and get more comfortable with the unit. It’s something that I think I can help the team with.”
Not many players get to play with an Original Six team but Lebda has already played for two, Detroit for five seasons and now here in Toronto. He realizes that he is lucky to play for two of the more storied franchises in hockey.
“They’re not just two Original Six teams, they’re probably the two classiest teams in the league. I don’t think any other team in the league treats you like they do in Toronto or Detroit. The fans in both cities are great.”