7PM ET: TSN
I was minding my own business this morning when I heard a thumping in the distance. It sounded like a horse galloping on concrete or a pirate with two peg legs doing calisthenics on ice. I put down my copy of "Wallpaper Monthly", my preferred periodical dealing with wall coverings, and went outside when I realized what it all meant.
This was no mere racket; it was communication. Dion Phaneuf himself stood on my front porch with a rock in each hand. "Why Mr. Phaneuf! A pleasure to run into you here but I was told you were convalescing." "BANG BANG BANG" "Ah so your leg has healed faster than expected. Here's the issue: what happens with Keith Aulie?" "BANG BANG BANG SCRAPE BANG".
And I understood. Wise words Mr. Phaneuf. Wise words.
The Flyers roll into town having also played last night; they had a goal waived off in OT because it didn't cross the goal line in time. Will the Flyers come out angry tonight or will they hang their heads after losing in the shootout? The Leafs and Flyers last matchup wasn't pretty but this is a good sign:
@broadsthockey Against the Flyers, of course. RT @reporterchris: Dion Phaneuf says he'll be in the lineup tonight for the #leafs.
It remains to be seen how the defensive lineup shakes out with the Captain returning. The first option is to do nothing while we see if Phaneuf is in game shape. If he is the Leafs need to make a choice of who to send down. Carl Gunnarsson is no longer waiver exempt and you'd hate to give him away for free. Brett Lebda stinks but makes a lot of money and is a recent UFA acquisition. Keith Aulie is playing well enough to have a spot but he's waiver eligible and combined with Lebda's caveat is probably the most likely option to go down.
The infuriating option is that per Jonas Siegel the Leafs didn't bag skate Lebda today which means he could draw into the lineup. The Leafs just went 2-1-0 against the top of the Eastern Conference with Lebda stapled to the press box and now he's coming back in? We could very well see both Gunnar and Aulie in the press box tonight: ugh.
I don't think Aulie to the Marlies is a horrible option; he'd still be playing and despite showing well he still needs some work. It'll be Gunnarsson in the press box that bothers me tonight; especially if he's there for long.
Doom Week still has two games left in it; two more points out of it would have to be a major success for this club. If Dion Phaneuf is really the leader of this team it would be nice to see them come out of the gate strong tonight instead of playing a bad first and hoping to come back.