Jake Gardiner continues to get his game back on track with the Marlies and is nearly at full strength. The biggest challenge for Gardiner
, as Marlies assistant coach Gord Dineen explained in conversation with TSN.ca on Thursday afternoon, was retaining his "read of the game"
, the 22-year-old making especially strong strides over the past week.
Dineen noted that Gardiner was back to skating with his accustomed grace and speed and had gradually regained his decisiveness when making plays with the puck.
"Definitely see that he's had his best games," Dineen said of Gardiner's recent performance. Gardiner has been in and around 30 minutes most nights for the Marlies,
including one such performance against Syracuse on Wednesday. Entering the evening with only five defenceman, the Marlies lost Jesse Blacker to injury early in the middle frame, forcing an even greater toll from the Leafs all-rookie defender last season.
It's only a matter of time before the Minnesota native is recalled, but it's important to keep in mind that with three more NHL games, Gardiner would become eligible for waivers. Once he's up then, he'll be up for good.
With unlikely stability on defence at the moment, the organization can wait just a little longer before pulling the trigger on his recall.