TORONTO — After his No. 1 goalie was a surprise injury scratch for Monday's 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said definitively that Frederik Andersen would be back in Toronto's crease Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Everyone was a lot less confident that would actually be the case roughly 15 hours later.
Andersen was on the ice at the start of practice with his teammates Tuesday, but departed about 20 minutes in, leaving backup Garret Sparks and Eamon McAdam, an emergency recall from the Newfoundland Growlers of the third-tier ECHL, to complete the session.
Andersen, who said leaving the skate prematurely was part of the recovery plan, could be seen stretching out his left knee between drills. The 29-year-old Dane indicated afterwards he tweaked something in Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals that wrapped up a perfect 4-0-0 road trip.
"I'm going to see," Andersen said when asked if he shared his coach's confidence from a night earlier that he would be ready to face the Penguins. "I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but definitely progressing.
"We'll see how it feels (Wednesday) and then on Thursday we'll see."
Babcock spoke with reporters following Andersen's availability and wanted to make sure he was on the same page.
"What did Freddy tell them? What did Freddy say?" Babcock asked a member of the Leafs' public relations staff.
"He said, 'We'll see for Thursday,'" came the response.
"We'll see for Thursday," Babcock repeated with a wry smile.
If Andersen isn't 100 per cent, there's no real reason to rush him back at this point in what will be a long season for a club with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Toronto is 6-1-0 through seven games after Sparks made 33 saves in the victory over Los Angeles, a big improvement from the six goals he allowed on 31 shots in a wild 7-6 overtime triumph against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7.
The 25-year-old Sparks was initially named by Babcock as the starter against the Kings following Monday's morning skate — a curious decision at the time given that Toronto was returning from a day off and Andersen had been on the ice.
The club then announced about 2 1/2 hours before puck drop that Andersen, who is 4-1-0 with a 3.02 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage, had suffered the knee injury and that McAdam had been recalled on a emergency basis to dress as the backup.
"I felt it, but it didn't flare up too much," Andersen said of how he was able to continue against the Capitals on Saturday. "I could keep playing. (Sunday) it swelled up a bit more. That's really what it is.
"Hopefully nothing too serious, but it is preventing me being in some of the positions I need to be in as a goalie."
The Leafs are thin at the position even with a healthy Andersen. Toronto lost Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard to the waiver wire before the start of the season, while Kasimir Kaskisuo of the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies was injured over the weekend. Jeff Glass, the Marlies' backup, is on an AHL-only contract.
Andersen, meanwhile, was doing his best to quell any concerns the injury is anything other than a blip.
"I'm feeling better," Andersen said. "I feel like it's (progressing) slowly, but good."
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press