The James van Riemsdyk experiment at centre is on. And if that fails, there’s always Joffrey Lupul.

“I played a little centre in Philadelphia, in the same type of situation with guys getting hurt,” said Lupul. “And I played a bit of centre in junior. It’s a big adjustment.”

While the Maple Leafs took a well deserved and much-needed day off Wednesday, there was no sense of panic among the players given the injuries to centres Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland that has left the team with a hole down the middle.

Far from panicking, the Leafs were in a jovial mood Tuesday, with several players volunteering to take a crack at the coveted No. 1 centre’s job. For now, the Leafs seem intent on playing van Riemsdyk at centre instead of left wing on the first line. But Lupul is ready if needed.

“We’re looking at JVR to make it right now,” said Lupul. “Anyway we can help him out, on faceoffs or in our own zone, it’s not always the centre who’s back down low. It’s whichever guy is first back. We’ll have to communicate and help him out as much as possible.”

Nazem Kadri, of course, could move back to the first line, with Jay McClement the second centre and Trevor Smith the third. That could necessitate a call to the Marlies, where reports on bottom-six centre Andrew Crescenzi are positive.

If coach Randy Carlyle really wanted to think out of the box, he could also look to defenceman Jake Gardiner, a centre in high school.

“It’s a different position,” said Lupul. “He (van Riemsdyk) is used to playing left wing. It’s different routes. It’s different assignments in our own zone and different assignments in the neutral zone.

“That being said, we’re all still in the same video room. You’re supposed to know what’s going on all over the ice. We’ll see if he does.”

Van Riemsdyk’s only hockey experience at playing centre came during a two-year stint at the position with the University of New Hampshire.

That might not have happened had it not been for Leafs teammate Smith.

Smith was also with UNH — a year before van Riemsdyk — but decided to turn pro, leaving an opening at centre. Van Riemsdyk became the school’s choice to replace him.

“Yeah, it came down to a decision about finishing school or playing pro hockey, and I made the choice to play pro,” said Smith. “I think it was the right decision, and I can always go back and finish school once hockey is over.”

The Leafs had previously entertained the idea of using van Riemsdyk at centre. Carlyle mentioned it two summers ago, after taking over from Ron Wilson for the final 18 games of the season.

“I made that comment and I didn’t think it would be that much of a story,” Carlyle said Tuesday. “We thought about it back then but the way things unfolded, we weren’t pressed into trying it.”