Leafs newcomer hearing it from all sides


Mike Komisarek was booed during the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener against the Montreal Canadiens but that night the jeers came from Montreal fans who had infiltrated the Air Canada Centre.


Mike Komisarek was booed during the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener against the Montreal Canadiens but that night the jeers came from Montreal fans who had infiltrated the Air Canada Centre.

Komisarek was booed again Tuesday night and this time it was the Leafs’ fans who turned on Toronto’s prized off-season acquisition.

The new season hasn’t been kind to Komisarek — or the Leafs. Toronto has an 0-5-1 record to open the season and Komisarek has struggled. The Colorado Avalanche beat the Leafs 4-1 Tuesday. Komisarek was on the ice for two of the Colorado goals (one caromed off his helmet) and he was in the penalty box. It was the fourth time this season that Komisarek has watched an opponent score from the penalty box.

Komisarek’s performance suggests that he misses Andrei Markov as much as the Canadiens do. Komisarek relied heavily on Markov when he was a Canadien and much of his success could be attributed to the fact that Markov covered for him on defence and was there to carry the puck when the play went the other way.

Vancouver prospect starts rehab

Canucks prospect Cody Hodgson began working with Brampton Battalion medical trainer Binne Brouwer on Wednesday to rehabilitate his ailing back.

Hodgson worked with Brouwer for about an hour, utilizing a program that was given to him by Dr. Tony Miniaci of the Cleveland Clinic. He’s expected to work with Brouwer most days.

Hodgson will return to the Cleveland hospital to see Miniaci on Oct. 26 to have his back reassessed.

Hodgson, 19, the Canucks’ first-round pick in last year’s NHL draft, was diagnosed with a bulging disc, which has caused some nerve damage.

“Cody has been fine, he’s the Cody I know,” said Battalion head coach Stan Butler on Wednesday. “We’re in a position of wait and see. When his back is 100 per cent, he’ll start to skate again.”

Sens have crush on Volchenkov

The crushing hit on New York Islanders rookie John Tavares by Ottawa Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov last Thursday has become a staple on YouTube.

But while his teammates love to watch his fearsome open-ice hits, the reserved Russian is not the excitable type.

“It’s just a part of the game,” he said. “Block shots and hit guys, and stopping (the) big line — this is part of the game. I don’t just skate around and look for guys.”

Although Volchenkov likes to stay in background, his value is not underestimated by the team.

“He’s a little bit of an unsung hero back there,” Senators coach Cory Clouston said. “He doesn’t get a lot of fanfare, but what he does is very valuable for the team: the physical play, the solid shot-blocking, the good defensive-zone coverage.”

And the crushing bodychecks?

“Those are fun to watch, absolutely,” Clouston said. “It makes the opposition a little bit wary when he’s out there. They know he’s going to finish his checks.

“It’s in the back of their heads, and that’s really important before the game even starts.”

Looch lifted off Bruins’ top line

The Boston Bruins aren’t off to a great start (2-3-0) and rugged winger Milan Lucic is paying a bit of a price.

Lucic has been taken off the B’s top unit and replaced by Michael Ryder, who’ll skate with Marc Savard and Marco Sturm.

"It’s just a little tweak for no other reason than to see if that will help maybe shake things up a little bit and get some attention and maybe spark something,” head coach Claude Juilen said to the Boston Globe. "I don’t think it’s directed necessarily at anybody except for trying to get the best four lines possible.”

Ducks defenceman unhappy with Briere hit

James Wisniewski suffered a sprained right shoulder Saturday night in the Ducks’ 3-2 shootout win over Philadelphia.

Wisniewski said he he was angry with how Daniel Briere went about the check.

“He decided to finish his check while I’m lying on the ice,” Wisniewski said to the Ducks’ website. “Well, my arms were laying straight out. Actually, he even went a little bit lower to get a little more piece of me, which to me is kind of a dirty hit.

“I mean, there’s no need to do that when a guy is in a vulnerable spot to go ahead and finish your check. But that happened. Stuff happens. My shoulder just kind of got crunched against the boards and that was it.”

Belle raring to go

Defenceman Shawn Belle had his first practice Wednesday since being called up from Hamilton and said he was looking forward to playing in the home opener Thursday night against Colorado.

"I think I’m here because they want to cut down on the goals against and I’m a defensive defenceman," said Belle, whose only previous NHL experience was two seasons ago when he played nine games for Minnesota.

Belle will be paired with Paul Mara and will play the left side.

Senators power-less

The Ottawa Senators spent extra time before Wednesday’s practice working on their power play. And why not? The team’s success rate of 6.7 per cent ranks last in the NHL.

Part of the problem is that the Senators haven’t had many power plays — an average of three a game — so they haven’t had many real-time chances to work on it.

The other part of the problem is that players are still getting used to each other.

“It always takes some time to get used to the new players on the team and build a new chemistry,” said forward Alex Kovalev, who was signed as a free agent. “But we all know what to do and it’s just the little things we have to go back to: keep it simple, because it looks like we’re trying too hard and trying to do too many things.”

Russian away

The Ottawa Senators have given disgruntled centre Ilya Zubov the green light to seek employment with a Russian team. Zubov left the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., last week, unwilling to play a third season in the AHL.

The Russian team would have to pick up Zubov’s contract, but he would remain property of the Senators and still owe them service if he returned to North America.

Heat win first ever

The Abbotsford Heat recorded the team’s first win in the AHL franchise’s history with a 4-2 victory over the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre on Tuesday night.

Jason Jaffray scored the game-winner, stealing the puck from a Moose defender in the Winnipeg zone before breaking in alone and beating Cory Schneider high glove-side.

"To be able to get our first win as a franchise was at the forefront of our thoughts, but to be able to get the game-winning goal on a breakaway against my former team — I don’t think I could have imagined a better way," said Jaffray, who signed with the Calgary Flames in the off-season.

Ice chips:

John Erskine, who suffered an upper body injury for the Washington Capitals on Monday, still is not skating with his teammates. He’s been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Sharks. . . . Winger J.P. Dumont (concussion) is still out for Nashville. . . . Blue Jackets defenceman Jan Hejda is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a sprained left knee. He was injured in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Calgary. . . . Colorado blue-liner John Liles will miss two weeks with a bruised shoulder.

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