Brent Looking To Crack Opening Night Roster
Monday, 09.27.2010 / 12:24 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
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What you see is what you’ll get.
Tim Brent is fine with that.
The Maple Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres to kick off the last week of the exhibition season tonight at Air Canada Centre and the lineup that will hit the ice will bear an uncanny resemblance to the one on display next Thursday when the Leafs open at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
“Pretty much our lineup is going tonight,” said coach Ron Wilson.
That roster will feature Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg. Mikhail Grabovski will centre Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur. The third line is set with Luca Caputi, Tim Brent and Colby Armstrong while the fourth is a havoc unit with Christian Hanson, Colton Orr and Mike Brown.
With Fredrick Sjostrom ready to take back a spot on his return and with Hanson all but assured of a job, Brent, Caputi, Nazem Kadri, John Mitchell and Jay Rosehill, are essentially fighting for one, at best two spots.
“It feels great to be here,” said Brent, a St. Mike’s alumni. “I’ve tried to quietly go about my business and show that I belong.”
Brent played one Leafs game last season but collected 13 goals and 28 points in 33 Marlie games. Clearly, at the American League level, he can score.
But the Leafs don’t need a whole lot of American League scorers and so Brent has focused on the other elements of his game.
“I’ve tried to focus on the stuff away from the puck,” he said. “Faceoffs, penalty-killing, the small things that sometimes end up being a big part of the hockey game.”
“I consider myself a student of the game. I have tried to get better every year.”
After cutting 17 players off the roster on Saturday, the Leafs have 30 players left and must get down to 23.
Still with a stall in the dressing room is Luca Caputi. The Toronto native has been one of the better forwards. That said, he was more than happy when Saturday passed without a phone call.
“I was a little on edge, Saturday night,” he said, “but I’ve been really happy with the way the camp has gone. I have to continue that tonight.”
Briefly: Expect Jonas Gustavsson to play the entire game tonight. Coach Ron Wilson did not sound enraptured by the idea of Nazem Kadri making the team. “He’s had lots of opportunities to make an impression. He’s got to get that done.” James Reimer will back up Gustavsson tonight. Sjostrom will probably not play tonight but should be ready to go in Ottawa on Wednesday