All signs point to winger Matt Frattin rejoining the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup for Wednesday night's game at the Air Canada Centre against the Ottawa Senators.
"He's closer than he was yesterday," was all Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle would say Tuesday after Frattin, 25, put in a hard hour of practice on a line with red-hot centre Nazem Kadri and left winger Clarke MacArthur. However, Leo Komaraov, who played with Kadri in Monday night's 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, was banished to the fourth line for Tuesday's practice, a strong indication Frattin's absence due to a knee injury will end after 10 games.
Frattin himself would only say he is getting close: "Still day-to-day."
However, he did admit to an eagerness to play, although he knew he wasn't quite ready on Monday.
"There's definitely a grey area where you feel like you don't want to rush it but you feel you want to be back," Frattin said. "Yeah, there was a possibility [of playing against the Devils]. But that first [full-contact] practice I had was on Sunday. I kind of felt personally I wasn't ready to go yet."
The Leafs offence should get a boost with the addition of Frattin, who had seven goals in 10 games before he was injured, playing mostly beside Kadri. In the last few games, Kadri has been on fire with a hat trick in a win over the New York Islanders and then a key goal Monday against the Devils.
"He's playing the game the way he always has been," Frattin told reporters looking for insights into what is looking like a breakout NHL season for Kadri, 22, who has five points in his last two games and 23 points in 23 games on the season.
James Reimer, who kept the Leafs in contention against the Devils until they found their scoring legs in the third period, will likely get his third consecutive start in goal against the Senators on Wednesday. Ben Scrivens may get the start Thursday in Boston against the Bruins.