With centre Mikhail Grabobski drawing back into the lineup Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, rookie Luca Caputi will get a promotion to the Toronto Maple Leafs' top line alongside Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak for his first game in blue and white at the Air Canada Centre.
The 21-year-old native of Maple, Ont., admitted at Tuesday's pregame skate he had some jitters, especially given he will have close to 20 family and friends in attendance.
"It's going to be an expensive night for myself," Caputi said of the ticket requests he had to handle. "I'm trying to keep the heart rate down and just relax. Keep my game simple for tonight. It's something I've always dreamt of and something that I'll always remember."
The Leafs acquired Caputi in exchange for Alexei Ponikarovsky at last week's trade deadline, and he has since had one assist in three games for Toronto.
A big point producer in junior hockey - where had 51 goals and 111 points in his final season with the Niagara IceDogs - Caputi has 23 goals and 47 points in 54 AHL games this season.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson said his goal with switching up the lines had more to do with Grabovski's return from a wrist injury than an attempt help out one of his young newcomers.
"Grabo's first game back, I just want [Nikolai Kulemin]to play with him," Wilson said. "That's the reason why Luca's up. It's just trying to find some balance. I don't know how long it'll last.
"I don't know how I would get him to feel less nervous than he is. There's nothing I can say unless I tell him he can't invite any family members to the game."
With Toronto's entire top line now 23 or under, Kessel said playing with yet another youngster shouldn't be an issue.
"I'm guessing he's going to be a little nervous out there," Kessel said. "He's from right around here. I'm sure he's going to have a lot of people at the game and watching and be a little nervous, but it's going to be fun for him, too.
"He's a good player. Once the game starts, he'll be ready to go."
Kessel firing blanks against Bruins
Kessel, meanwhile, needs a bit of a jumpstart Tuesday given his lack of production against his former team.
He has no points and is minus-3 in four meetings this season with the Bruins, who traded him to Toronto in September.
"I had a lot of chances last game, it's not like… I mean, I should have buried a couple of those," Kessel said. "That's just how it goes. Hopefully find a way to do it tonight."
The good news from the Leafs perspective is the fact that Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who has shut Kessel down this season, will miss the game with an undisclosed lower body injury. His absence leaves Boston with a relatively young blueline with four defencemen 26 and under.
Penner to make NHL debut
With Chara sidelined, the Bruins recalled undrafted defenceman Jeff Penner from Providence of the AHL. The 22-year-old Steinbach, Man., native will make his NHL debut on Boston's blueline against the Leafs.
"I can't even explain it - it's something you look forward to your whole life as a kid playing hockey and it finally comes," Penner said.
"It's exciting. Here especially, playing the Maple Leafs. Every TV in Canada's got the Maple Leafs on on Saturday nights so I mean you obviously grow up watching the Leafs."
Notebook: The goaltenders tonight will be Jonas Gustavsson for the Leafs and Tim Thomas for the Bruins … Julien said Chara's injury is minor and that he is day-to-day … Wilson said winger Fredrik Sjostrom will miss two weeks with a shoulder injury suffered on the weekend.Report Typo/Error