Leafs’ crease getting back to normal
Expect to see Frederik Andersen back in his office on Monday night.
The Maple Leafs’ No. 1 goaltender, felled by the flu the past couple of days, is set to return to the crease after recovering from a groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Dec. 22.
“Definitely feel ready to go,” Andersen said after the Leafs practised at the MasterCard Centre on Sunday. “Got the little flu out of the way and feel a lot better than the (past) two days.
“It’s just a confidence thing of being in different positions with my leg and I think we covered a good amount of ground today. It felt really good.”
The Leafs play host to the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Arena on Monday and there is a good chance Garret Sparks also will be in his usual spot, sitting at the end of the bench backing up Andersen.
Andersen has missed the past eight games; for Sparks, the period of inactivity has reached five games in his recovery from a concussion.
Sparks practised on Sunday, while Michael Hutchinson, who held the fort with the top two Toronto netminders on the sideline, did not participate. Later, Hutchinson was on the ice with goaltending coach Steve Briere and director of player development Stephane Robidas.
“I’m medically cleared to participate with the team and what they choose to do (on Monday) is up to them,” Sparks said.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock indicated we will know after the morning skate on Monday who is in net against an Avalanche team that was shut out in Montreal by the Canadiens on Saturday night and has lost nine of its past 10 games.
Late on Saturday night, the Leafs returned Kasimir Kaskisuo to the Toronto Marlies.
Hutchinson has played in nine NHL games this season. If he plays in a 10th, he would require waivers to be sent to the Toronto Marlies.
With Andersen and Sparks appearing to be set to return on Monday, the Leafs should not have to worry about possibly losing Hutchinson on waivers.
SPARKS ON POINT
What did Sparks learn in suffering his first concussion, which came after he took a couple of shots off the mask during practice on Jan. 2?
His answer should be required reading across the National Hockey League.
“It’s important to take care of it properly,” Sparks said.
“It’s important to let the people who support you in your life help you and it’s OK to reach out and tell people you’re not all right.
“Everybody just wants to see you healthy, ultimately.
“I have the best training staff in the world here and it’s nice that I have that available to me. For any goalies who may experience it and not have this level of care, you just have to be careful and take your time and make sure you’re 100 per cent before you get back out there.”
If Sparks is in similar circumstances, he will know what to do.
“The first shot hurt, the second one ( by William Nylander) did the damage,” Sparks said.
“It’s just being more aware of how you feel after you get hit, taking a bit of a mental evaluation of yourself and not being the tough guy who gets hit in the head and puts is his mask back (on) and gets back in net. Because that’s why I got hurt.”