MAPLE LEAFS (22-23-3) at DEVILS (17-22-8)
TV: SN, MSG+
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to set the tone for a second-half push for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs without the services of captain Dion Phaneuf on Wednesday when they visit the New Jersey Devils.
It will mark the first time in four seasons that Phaneuf (hand) will miss a game because of an injury, one he apparently sustained at some point against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 21. Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek said Phaneuf, who has not missed a game because of injury since Dec. 8, 2010, is week-to-week.
The loss of Phaneuf comes at the most inopportune time for Toronto, which also is without defenseman Stephane Robidas (upper body), and has lost six straight games and 14 of its past 17.
Holzer has four assists in 19 games this season.
"[Playing the left side] will be a little bit of an adjustment but I had two or three practices on the left side; there are things I'll have to do differently with the angles," Holzer said. "I did play the left side for three years when I was in Germany five years ago, but the ice is bigger there. Having [Franson] as a partner will make it a lot easier because he is a very capable guy and talks a lot so we'll have some good chemistry out there."
American Hockey League call-up Petter Granberg will replace Robidas. Granberg will be making his season debut. He had one goal and seven points in 28 games with the Toronto Marlies.
Someone will have to step up and take some of the extra minutes that Phaneuf customarily logs each game. Phaneuf, who has two goals and 22 points this season, leads the Maple Leafs with 23:05 of ice time per game this season. The next closest Toronto defenseman is Franson (21:06), followed by Roman Polak (20:49) and Jake Gardiner (19:57).
Since taking over as interim coach for the Maple Leafs on Jan. 7, Horachek is 1-7-0.
"One of our focuses is a good start," Franson said. "We've been chasing games of late. I don't think it's due to a lack of preparation but just kind of the way it's been going. We're chasing games and that's something we want to focus on and play with the lead more."
Since Lou Lamoriello has taken over behind the bench for New Jersey, along with co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens, on Dec. 27, the Devils are 5-5-1. Lamoriello was asked if he believes New Jersey can climb into a playoff spot.
"Allowing a thought process like that will only get in the way," Lamoriello said. "The most important focus is on tonight. Everybody wants to get into the playoffs, so let's not say that's not important, but once you start thinking about the end result you're in trouble. You have to do all the things that are necessary to have success [and] let the end result take care of itself. Because sometimes no matter what you do and how well you do it, it's not going to work."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scratched: Stuart Percy
Status update: Zajac, who returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday with an illness, will be a game-time decision. He was one of five players on the ice at the morning skate. ... Ruutu, still on injured reserve after missing the three-game California trip because of the flu, said he is ready to play. … The Maple Leafs get Komarov and Holland back in the lineup after each missed time with an injury. Holland (hand), who missed 10 games, likely will center the third line, and Komarov (shoulder), who missed five games, will work on the top line with Kadri and Kessel.
Who's hot: Gomez has two goals and nine points in the past eight games. With 466 points, he trails Bobby Holik by six for fifth place in Devils history. ... Kadri has scored a goal in consecutive games for the Maple Leafs.
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