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Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner out week-to-week with back injury


TORONTO — Defenceman Jake Gardiner will be out week-to-week with a back injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs said Wednesday.

The Maple Leafs updated Gardiner's status on Twitter after earlier saying that Gardiner was out of Toronto's Wednesday night game against visiting Edmonton with an undisclosed injury.

Head coach Mike Babcock said after Toronto's morning skate that Igor Ozhiganov will start in Gardiner's place.

Gardiner missed games against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 20 and Washington Capitals on Jan. 23 with back spasms. He then had the NHL's all-star break to rest and has played in all 13 Leafs games since then.

However, his playing time has been reduced seemingly in an effort to manage Gardiner's minutes. Before the back spasms Gardiner averaged 21:40 per game, but since then that time has dropped to 19:31.

Gardiner has two goals and 27 assists in 60 games played this season, but only five assists in his past 13 games.

The Canadian Press

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