After seven days of waiting, the Maple Leafs finally play their third game of the 2011-12 season Saturday when they host the Calgary Flames.
It has been a long week for the players and coaches but the time was well spent working on implementing new systems and also bonding with a three-day trip to Trenton CFB.
“I think it was really good for us to have the time to work on some of the things that we want to be better at,” said captain Dion Phaneuf
The break in between games wasn’t just long for the players and fans, Ron Wilson is also glad to be back in action Saturday.
“You still want to play games and you can only practice so much,” he said. “We accomplished a lot of things that we had hoped.”
Even though the break early in the schedule is a bonus, starting with Saturday’s game, the Leafs will play five games in the next eight days including three games in four nights.
“It will catch up to us somewhere and it will be a busy stretch for us but we used this week right and we’re ready to go,” Phaneuf said.
The one player who is most looking forward to tomorrow night is Clarke MacArthur
. The Leafs forward last played in a preseason game on September 30th. He was suspended for the final preseason game and the first two regular-season games.
“I’m pretty excited this year,” MacArthur said. “We have playoffs on our mind and I didn’t like to miss those games. I had two years without missing a game and it will be nice to get back in tomorrow.”
The other lineup change will see defenceman Cody Franson
make his Leafs debut. Franson is expected to be on the left side paired with the Mike Komisarek
“He is going to play the next game and the rest is up to him,” Wilson noted. “He’s put a lot of pressure on himself talking this week and now he has to perform.”
For his career, Franson has mostly played the right side but in Wilson’s mind there shouldn’t be a huge adjustment for the 24-year-old.
“He should be able to play the left side and with the pairings we have we aren’t going to change too much,” Wilson said.
MacArthur returns to his regular spot with Mikhail Grabovski
and Nikolai Kulemin
. That pushes rookie Matt Frattin
to a line with Matt Lombardi and Colby Armstrong
“We should be a good transition line because we have lots of speed on and as soon as we read a turnover we’re going to try and cause an odd man rush,” Frattin said.
Having played just three regular-season games in his NHL career, Frattin is looking forward to playing the Flames, knowing he will have plenty of people cheering him on in Edmonton.
“I have about 50 family members within two hours of each other in Edmonton and they will definitely be tuned in,” he noted.Notes: James Reimer
will start against Calgary and Wilson told the media that if Reimer continues to play well he doesn’t want to fool around with what’s working … Frattin on the long layoff: “It kind of reminds me of college because you practice four times before another game.” Wilson on the key after the six day break: “We’ve got to simplify our game early until we find the tempo in the game because we worked hard during practice but game tempo is entirely different.”