In an effort to find a spark, the Maple Leafs changed things up during Wednesday’s practice.
The biggest modification saw Phil Kessel moved to a line that flanks David Booth and Trevor Smith. The move, and indication that the effort level needs significant improvement.
“His minutes are lower because we’re using four lines, because we’re not getting everything from all of the lines,” said Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek. “Unfortunately we’re getting good minutes from (David) Booth, (Richard) Panik and Trevor Smith, some could say they are the fourth line but they’re playing strong games. Their minutes have been going up. We needed that, we need that momentum, the work to push everyone else.”
Panik has been rewarded with a different look at practice, skating alongside James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak.
“Our line in specific, didn’t play well enough to deserve to be on the ice,” said Bozak. “Whenever we were out there, we were giving up chances and we weren’t creating much on our own.”
David Clarkson will be back in the lineup against the Islanders after missing the last two games as a healthy scratch. This is large in part to a lingering lower-body issue Joffrey Lupul has been dealing with since returning from his latest injury.
Lupul could miss a week worth of action, according to Horachek.
“You have to go out there and play, that’s our job,” said Stephane Robidas. “The only thing you can control is the way we prepare yourself and show up every night.”
Petter Granberg has been called up from the Marlies, a move made necessary with the Leafs on the road for the next few days.
Cody Franson didn’t take part in practice. He was given a maintenance day and is not expected to miss any action.