January 28, 2006
(TORONTO) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have been hit by the injury bug of late and it has allowed some of the team's young prospects to get valuable time in the NHL.
Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, Whitby native Jay Harrison was the latest youngster to find himself up with the big team.
|Jay Harrison made his NHL debut Saturday night. |
Harrison saw 13:10 of ice time which included 1:12 on the penalty kill. Harrison teamed with fellow Toronto Marlies grad Staffan Kronwall. The two were partnered together with the Marlies this season and that helped ease the transition in the NHL. Kronwall played 11:20 and he and Harrison both looked comfortable making outlet passes and playing well defensively in their own zone.
Head coach Pat Quinn was pleased with the way Harrison played in his first NHL game.
"He did pretty well for a first time," Quinn said. "He handled his positioning really well and he's improved a lot this year and he did a nice job."
Marlies head coach Paul Maurice is happy that his players are playing the NHL as that is the goal for all the Marlies players but Saturday night three players who played with the Marlies earlier this season were with the Leafs and not in Portland with the Marlies.
Joining Harrison and Kronwall was Andy Wozniewski playing in his third NHL game. Wozniewski teamed with Ken Klee as the Leafs second pairing.
Klee who tied the game late in the third was pleased with not only his partner but the other two young defencemen.
"The guys did well," Klee said. "They stepped up and made nice plays and all three did well tonight."
It just wasn't on the blue line that the Leafs changed things up on Saturday although injuries weren't the reason for Mikael Tellqvist to start against Montreal.
Ed Belfour had started the previous three games and six of seven but was given the night off by Quinn.
Tellqvist made his first start since playing against Minnesota and he didn't have much work to do as he faced only 20 shots with half of them coming in the third period and overtime.
The young netminder playing in his second full NHL season has done well when given the chance this season. While he didn't pick up the win Saturday night, he made some big saves when his team needed them.
In the third he made a nice glove save on Michael Ryder who cut in on a partial breakaway. In overtime Tellqvist wasn't happy about the winning goal.
"I want to see a replay but you can't push me in the net," Tellqvist said. "It felt like he pushed my leg in."
The Leafs did get some good injury news Saturday as Darcy Tucker made his return to the Leafs lineup after being out six games. Tucker gave the Leafs a scare in the third when he went into the boards and appeared to hurt his knee. But the rugged winger returned to game action.
More good news is on the way as Bryan McCabe is expected to be back in the lineup some time next week.