TORONTO – Head coach Ron Wilson has been forced to make some tough lineup decisions with healthy bodies returning to the Toronto Maple Leafs. And it’s not going to get any easier moving forward.
Wilson decided to insert winger Jay Rosehill in place of Nazem Kadri for Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, but wouldn’t reveal which defenceman would come out to make room for Jake Gardiner.
“A defenceman,” he said after the morning skate. “It’s a game-time decision.”
Given the secrecy around the move, it’s likely a veteran defenceman. Luke Schenn stayed on the ice to do some extra work after the skate—prompting speculation he was the odd man out—but he told a handful of reporters afterwards that Wilson hadn’t spoken with him.
“I don’t even really want to talk about it because I was just working on stuff,” he said. “No one told me anything.”
Another candidate is Mike Komisarek, who is minus-5 in four games since returning from a broken right arm. He caused the turnover that led to the first goal by the New York Rangers on Saturday night and was on the ice for the subsequent two goals that came during a 3-0 loss.
The reason for a change is Wilson’s desire to get Gardiner back in the lineup. The rookie was a healthy scratch for the last five games, but suited up in the American Hockey League for the Marlies on Sunday afternoon to help shake off some rust.
“He’s averaged over 20 minutes a game (in the NHL this season),” said Wilson. “It was a good little break for him.
“He’s no different than any college player—he’s played as many games this year as he probably played last year at university. That’s an adjustment.”
The decisions will only get tougher for Wilson with winger Colby Armstrong and defenceman John-Michael Liles working their way back from concussions. Both players participate in Tuesday’s morning skate with their teammates.
The Senators, meanwhile, decided to go with the same lineup they used Monday during a 2-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Craig Anderson will make his 10th straight start in goal.
Ottawa has won two of the three games the provincial rivals have played this season.
The Leafs’ struggling top line will get a boost with the return of Tyler Bozak after missing seven games with a shoulder injury. He’ll take his familiar spot between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul—a vote of confidence for the 25-year-old centre.
“You never know where you’re going to slide in right when you come back from an injury,” said Bozak. “Obviously, it shows a little confidence from the coaching staff, which is nice.
“Hopefully, I can go out and make them look like they made the right decision.”