Into every Leafs season a little angst must fall.
|RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR|
|Stajan, Wellwood, Steen: Time to step it up, kids.|
So here it goes. So far a little more than a month into the season the Leafs front lines have been pretty much intact. But losing Mats Sundin for three to four weeks - which would amount to between 10 and 13 games on the schedule - puts them in something of a bind. And being out that long means that there will be some adjustments when he comes back.
So what do you do now if you're Paul Maurice? Shifting Kyle Wellwood back to centre is probably the first option - it's certainly the first one I can think of, but who would move up on the depth chart to fill Wellwood's spot from there? Matt Stajan to the first line seems a reach. Mike Peca, anyone?
This is a blow, for sure, Sundin in all-star form this season. But if there's a bright side, it's that Pavel Kubina is due back Thursday night - those defenders who limped out of the lineup before Kubina are getting closer to returning, too. A renewed commitment to defence, and continued good goaltending from Andrew Raycroft sounds like Maurice's overarching theme for the next month.
UPDATE: This from Mark Zwolinski's latest report:
Leafs coach Paul Maurice said Kyle Wellwood, who had been on Sundin's wing on a regular line and on the power play, will centre the club's top line with Alex Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov when the Leafs faceoff in Boston tomorrow night.
Wade Belak was dressed as a forward in practice today and may be see work on the fourth line to complete the forward lines.
Alex Suglobov, who has been a healthy scratch for over a month now, may also get back into the lineup in Sundin's absence.
UPDATE II: It almost is too eerie, but Raking Leafs is saying just about the same thing I'm doing here. (What's that old saying about great minds?)