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(NATHAN DENETTE)
(NATHAN DENETTE)

Leafs trade talk hits frenzied levels Add to ...

Luke Schenn was wondering what was going on.

The horde of cameras was gathering around him as he came off the ice at Tuesday's morning skate, as the Toronto Maple Leafs prepared to face the Ottawa Senators.

As the last defenceman off the ice, Schenn would usually be the one of the seven blueliners out as a healthy scratch that night.

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But if that was the case, it was news to him.

"I don't know? Am I?" Schenn said when asked if he was sitting. "I don't know to be honest. I was just working on stuff. No one told me anything."

That's generally not how things are done, meaning that Schenn, in fact, will likely play. Keith Aulie, too, believed he was playing.

By process of elimination, Mike Komisarek, who left the ice quickly and didn't speak with media, was probably the one receiving the bad news.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson wasn't tipping his hand, however, as he cryptically answered "a defenceman" when asked who would be out to make room in the lineup for rookie Jake Gardiner.

"It's a game-time decision," he said.

So in essence, what you had on Tuesday was a relatively routine decision. An NHL coach puts in a player who had sat four games but deserves to play and appears to be sitting a veteran who hasn't played very well since a return from a broken arm.

What shouldn't have been a big deal instead ignited all sorts of trade rumours online, with speculation that Schenn, Nazem Kadri (another healthy scratch Tuesday) and others could be on the block.

That's the environment around the Leafs right now, one brought on by general manager Brian Burke broadcasting that he was looking to deal earlier this month.

The coaching staff is obviously sensitive to all of the attention, which is why it would make sense for someone like Komisarek to find out quietly he wasn't playing and be allowed to escape the dressing room without being mobbed.

Even if Schenn will sit, however, that hardly means there's a deal pending. And the same goes for Kadri, who has just one point in his last seven games and could be looking at another trip to the minors soon.

The fact is the Leafs are carrying 23 players, it's a long season, and at least two or three bodies are going to be in the press box every night.

And there was little out of the ordinary about what happened on Tuesday.

Besides, if anything, if Schenn was going to be moved, he'd be playing every night. No team wants to give up much for a healthy scratch.

Notebook

- As noted Monday, James Reimer will start in goal for the Leafs for the first time in 2012. Craig Anderson gets the start for the Sens as he has a .945 save percentage in January so far.

- There was a ton of talk about the revival of the Battle of Ontario at the rink, with both teams potentially set to make the playoffs in the same year for the first time since they met in Round 1 of 2004.

No Leafs players are left from those days, while the Sens have Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil. Only Sens coach Paul MacLean seemed to feel the rivalry was still going strong. (Joffrey Lupul said he didn't even remember watching any of their previous playoff meetings.)

"Usually it involves playoff series," Wilson said. "That's where rivalries come from."

- Jay Rosehill comes in for Kadri, as Wilson felt some toughness was needed to combat the Sens various puncher types. Rosehill hasn't played since Dec. 19 when he got 3:33 minutes against L.A. "Ottawa likes to rough it up a bit," Wilson said. "We want to make sure we’re prepared."

- Wilson also talked about the Leafs need to get more shots on goal. They've averaged only about 26 a game since John-Michael Liles went out with a concussion about 10 games ago: "We've been overpassing pucks instead of getting pucks to the net. You pump up the shot volume a bit, it's going to help. That's what we need."

Leafs projected lineup

Lupul - Bozak - Kessel MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lombardi - Connolly - Crabb Rosehill - Steckel - Brown

Aulie - Phaneuf Gunnarsson - Schenn Gardiner - Franson

Reimer

Sens projected lineup

Michalek - Spezza - Greening Condra - Turris - Alfredsson Foligno - Smith - Neil Butler - Konopka - Daugavins

Kuba - Karlsson Cowen - Gonchar Phillips - Carkner

Anderson

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