Black threads of stitches were dangling from the bridge of Cody Franson’s nose on Saturday but he played more than 20 minutes without a full visor after Thursday’s dangerous episode in Nashville.

After passing a puck in tight quarters the Leafs defenceman had no time to extend his hands and brace for a face-first meeting with a stanchion at the Predators bench as he was ridden in by Mike Fisher. Franson departed the game had a tough plane ride home with the cabin pressure but after practising with a bubble visor on Friday he chucked it against the Oilers.

Asked if his nose was broken Franson joked “I’ll keep that to myself”.

“I couldn’t see through (the full visor)” Franson claimed. “Every time I looked down for the puck I’d see a bunch of sweat. It was hindering me more than helping. I figured trying to play well is bigger than saving my nose.”

seeing eye to eye

Randy Carlyle and James van Riemsdyk had their differences early last season when it came to the 6-foot-3 left winger using his size to be a more dynamic player. Van Riemsdyk’s net presence and reach as underlined by five goals in six games would indicate the two are on the same page.

“I didn’t know that much about him” Carlyle said of the trade that brought him from the Flyers. “I’d watched tape of him. Then came the playoff series against Boston and he took the next step.”

Of van Riemsdyk’s huge game on Saturday Carlyle quipped “now he’s made it difficult on himself because we’re going to expect that every game. But there has been growth in JVR from what is expected from him day in and day out and the way he has to play to be effective.

“Big guys don’t look like they’re covering a lot of ground. But he’s a big man and as soon as he gets a step and body position not many people will catch him.”

growing gains

So many times in his tenure as captain Dion Phaneuf has stood before the cameras trying to explain the mistakes the Leafs have made and how one or two key errors were the difference in a close result.

This year the Leafs are still far and away the NHL’s worst team on giveaways (98 through six games) but they’ve lost only once (5-1). They do just enough of everything else to counter their loose play around the net and in the neutral zone. They rank second in takeaways to the defending Cup champion Blackhawks as of now and since last year they’ve been getting the goaltending and timely offence to see them through the hiccups.