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Posted On Saturday, 03.23.2013 / 1:35 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Komarov out for Maple Leafs, Boychuk for Bruins

TORONTO -- Forward Leo Komarov has been placed on injured reserve by the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury.

"He is unavailable to our hockey club for a minimum of one week," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We are looking at it probably 7-10 days."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 1:35 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs place Komisarek on waivers

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Mike Komisarek on waivers Wednesday.

Komisarek had a no-movement clause in his contract and had to waive it to allow the move. Komisarek would report to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League if he is not claimed by another team.

The 31-year-old was on the ice for the morning skate but was not available for comment.

Komisarek has no points and a plus-2 rating in four games this season. He last played Feb. 2, and has been a healthy scratch in 21 straight games.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher said forward Ryan Malone is out indefinitely with a left-shoulder injury. Malone was hurt March 18 in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Forward Benoit Pouliot is "on the verge" of a return, according Boucher. The left wing, who is recovering from an upper-body injury, was on the ice for the morning skate with a red jersey.

Here is how the Lightning and Maple Leafs could line up when they meet Wednesday:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:47 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Liles back in for Maple Leafs after spell as scratch

TORONTO -- Looking to add a spark to the defense corps, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle will dress offensive-minded John-Michael Liles for the first time since Feb. 16.

Liles, who has been a healthy scratch for the previous 12 games, said he has watched video and heeded advice from Carlyle on what he needs to improve.

"It's a learning process regardless of if you are playing or not playing," Liles said. "By not playing, I was able to maybe scrutinize the film a little bit more than normal. It's just a matter of always trying to reevaluate and always trying to improve."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators hoping for boost from Michalek return

TORONTO -- The Ottawa Senators will get a much-needed boost when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday as Milan Michalek returns to the lineup after a 10-game absence. Michalek injured his knee in the pre-game warm-ups prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 13.

"It's been a while; I'm really excited," Michalek said. "It took me a few weeks, I was rehabbing, but now [my knee] feels good. Hopefully I can provide some offense that has been missing. I'm going to try not to put too much pressure on [myself].

The Senators have struggled offensively this season, entering Wednesday 29th with 2.13 goals per game.

"Milan brings a veteran presence and experience that we definitely need," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "His speed and offensive ability is going to help us, give us more offensive depth. That is a great addition."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 1:06 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Here are the projected lineups for a game Wednesday night between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators at Air Canada Centre:

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Dave Dziurzynski - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra

Mark Stone - Peter Regin - Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Wiercioch - Sergei Gonchar

Eric Gryba - Marc Methot

Chris Phillips - Andre Benoit

Ben Bishop

Robin Lehner

Injured: Craig Anderson, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson

Scratched: Jim O'Brien, Kaspars Daugavins

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Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 12:37 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs could get Frattin back vs. Devils

TORONTO -- Whether forward Matt Frattin returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup will be a game-time decision according to senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis. Frattin has not played since Feb. 11 because of a knee injury, but was on the ice at the morning skate.

If he does play, he is expected to skate on a line with Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur. Kadri, coming off his first career hat trick, is excited at the prospect of reuniting with Frattin.

"I can't wait, I've been waiting for him to come back since he went down," Kadri said. "He is a good player and obviously we have some chemistry together and hopefully we pick up where we left off."

In the event Frattin is unable to play, it is likely that Jay McClement will be inserted on the wing and David Steckel will center the fourth line between Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren.


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Posted On Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 1:15 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ryder to play for Habs; Reimer back, only as backup

Newly acquired Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Ryder will play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday but coach Michel Therrien would not say where the 32-year-old would be slotted in the lineup.

The Canadiens had 15 skaters plus their two goalies on the ice at the morning skate and did not skate in line rushes. Carey Price likely will get the start in goal.

The Maple Leafs activated goaltender James Reimer from injured reserve and sent Jussi Rynnas back to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Ben Scrivens will start and Reimer will serve as the backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 3:36 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineup for Sabres vs. Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Buffalo Sabres did not skate in line rushes Thursday morning. However, new coach Ron Rolston said defensemen Jordan Leopold (upper-body injury) and Andrej Sekera (lower-body injury) and forward Mikhail Grigorenko will not play against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here are the projected line combinations:

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Posted On Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 1:36 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Orr out, Steckel likely in for Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colton Orr took part in the morning skate but was ruled out of action against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday because of a lower-body injury. Because of the injury to Orr, it is expected that David Steckel will center the fourth line. It will be the first time Steckel has played since Feb, 14.

Goaltender James Reimer was also on the ice briefly before he left for the dressing room. Reimer injured his knee against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 11, but is inching closer to returning.

Here is the Maple Leafs' projected lineup for Thursday's game:

James Van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Leo KomarovMikhail GrabovskiNikolai Kulemin

Jay McClementNazem KadriClarke MacArthur

Frazer McLarenDavid SteckelMike Brown

Dion PhaneufKorbinian Holzer

Carl GunnarssonMichael Kostka

Cody FransonMark Fraser

Ben Scrivens

Jussi Rynnas

Scratches: John-Michael LilesMike Komisarek

Injured: Colton OrrJoffrey LupulJames Reimer

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Posted On Saturday, 02.16.2013 / 4:04 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators could have forwards back soon

The injury-riddled Ottawa Senators could welcome back two players early next week.

Coach Paul MacLean stated that forwards Peter Regin and Milan Michalek might return to the lineup on Monday.

Regin has missed two games with an injury to his chest while Michalek has missed one game with a knee injury.

With Jason Spezza out indefinitely after having back surgery and the devastating loss of dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson to a lacerated Achilles tendon, times are certainly tough in Ottawa.

But alternate captain Chris Phillips feels that the best thing for his team to do is avoid dwelling on the situation.

“Our team is a lot better with those guys in the lineup. For us right now, the biggest thing is to not be thinking about that,” Phillips said. “[We have to be] confident in this group, in our ability and in the guys we have in to replace them. As a group, we all have to pick it up and try to fill those roles.”

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Posted On Saturday, 02.16.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Three Senators to make debut in Toronto

TORONTO -- The Ottawa Senators visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. It will be the Senators' first game since losing star defenseman Erik Karlsson to injury.

Forwards Dave Dziurzynski and Derek Grant will make their NHL debuts along with defenseman Eric Gryba. Ottawa recalled the trio from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League on Friday.

Under the daunting spotlight of a nationally televised game in Canada, Senators coach Paul Maclean said he expects the three rookies to relish the opportunity and stick to the basics.

“We just want them to be them; we are not asking anyone to be anybody that they can’t be,” Maclean said. “Just come and play and enjoy it. It’s a great spot to show everyone you can play in the League.”

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Posted On Saturday, 02.16.2013 / 1:13 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lineups for a game Saturday night at Air Canada Centre between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs:

MAPLE LEAFS

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Jay McClementMikhail GrabovskiNikolai Kulemin

Leo KomarovNazem KadriClarke MacArthur

Mike BrownDavid SteckelColton Orr

Dion PhaneufKorbinian Holzer

John-Michael LilesMichael Kostka

Cody FransonMark Fraser

Ben Scrivens

Jussi Rynaas

Injured: Joffrey Lupul, Carl Gunnarsson, James Reimer

Scratched: Frazer McLaren, Mike Komisarek

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Posted On Monday, 02.11.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flyers, Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Maple Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will remain out of the Toronto lineup with a nagging hip injury but hopes to return soon.

According to coach Randy Carlyle, forward Mike Brown will return to action sooner than Gunnarsson. Brown has not played since injuring his shoulder Jan 29 in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Here is the lineup the Maple Leafs likely will put on the ice as they search for their fourth straight win, something they haven't done since Jan. 3-10, 2012, as well as for the visiting Philadelphia Flyers:

MAPLE LEAFS

James Van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Leo Komarov - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Clarke MacArthur - Nazem Kadri - Matt Frattin

Frazer McLaren - Jay McClement - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Korbinian Holzer

John-Michael Liles - Michael Kostka

Cody Franson - Mark Fraser

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: Mike Komisarek

Injured: Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Brown, Joffrey Lupul

FLYERS

Danny Briere - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Jakub Voracek - Brayden Schenn - Tye McGinn

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Mike Knuble

Ruslan Fedotenko - Maxime Talbot - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn

Nicklas Grossmann - Kurtis Foster

Braydon Coburn - Bruno Gervais

Ilya Bryzgalov

Brian Boucher

Scratched: Jody Shelley, Tom Sestito, Andreas Lilja

Injured: Scott Hartnell, Andrej Meszaros, Michael Leighton

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Posted On Monday, 02.04.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Leafs' Gunnarsson out with hip injury

TORONTO -- After being ruled out of Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson remains sidelined with a hip injury.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle revealed the nature of the injury this morning.

"[Gunnarsson] had an MRI done and he has an ailment in his hip area that is causing a little bit of discomfort," Carlyle said. "There is no muscular tear. He irritated it probably when he first came over after lockout … he should be back with us shortly."

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Posted On Monday, 02.04.2013 / 2:09 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs looking for home improvement

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes meet Monday at the Air Canada Centre, where the Toronto is just 1-3-0 so far this season.

"Obviously we would like to win more games in our building … it's imperative that we have a strong home record to qualify for the playoffs. It's as simple as that," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after the morning skate.

James Reimer will start in goal for the Maple Leafs after stopping 33 of 34 shots in a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. It will be Reimer's fifth consecutive start, and after a tumultuous 2011-12 season, he's looking more comfortable in goal.

"I feel like being healthy is maybe the biggest thing," Reimer said of his stronger play so far. In six games, he's 3-2-0 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.

Forward Clarke MacArthur may return to the line-up, as Carlyle referred to him as being "available" for Monday's game. The 27 year old has missed three games with a lacerated finger.

Cam Ward will start in net for Carolina. He has had a slow start to the season with a 1-3-0 record and 4.05 GAA, but did stop 11 of 12 shots after relieving Dan Ellis in a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

"I think he has got that bug in him that he wants to show people how good of a goalie he can be," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said of Ward's mindset. "Technique-wise he has always had it, that drive to be the number-one goalie, and that will drive him right now."

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said he feels his team has played well at even-strength but has been hurt by poor special-teams play. "We've got to get better on the power play and be sharper on the penalty kill," he said.

The Hurricanes enter the week 26th in the League with the man-advantage (11.1 percent), and 27th on the penalty kill (69.7 percent).

"[At even strength] our game has been pretty good besides the first two when we were adjusting at the start," Staal said. "We've got some new faces, and I think we've been a pretty good team and [have] stacked up with anybody."

Forward Tim Wallace, recalled Sunday from the AHL, will play Monday on the fourth line. The 28-year-old will skate for the first time in a Hurricanes uniform. He has played 73 NHL games, totaling three goals and eight assists, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders.

Here is how the lineups likely will look:

MAPLE LEAFS

James Van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Jay McClement - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Matt Frattin - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Clarke MacArthur - David Steckel - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Michael Kostka

Mark Fraser - John-Michael Liles

Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: Frazer McLaren, Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Mike Brown, Joffrey Lupul, Carl Gunnarsson

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer

Drayson Bowman - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose

Tim Wallace - Tim Brent - Kevin Westgarth

Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk

Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain

Jay Harrison - Bobby Sanguinetti

Cam Ward

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Andreas Nodl, Joe Corvo

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Posted On Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Maple Leafs, Bruins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won two staright games, but Saturday they face a Boston Bruins club that won all six contests in the rivalry last season.

Toronto will go with James Reimer in goal, who stopped 20 shots on Thursday to help the Maple Leafs win at home for the first time this season.

Asked if he would use the same lineup from the 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals 48 hours earlier, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle simply said, "No."

This could mean that Toronto's recent waiver claim, 6-foot-5, 230-pound left wing Frazer McLaren, might play on the fourth line and if so, he will be counted on to add some toughness to counter the gritty Bruins.

"[The Maple Leafs] know how I play, I'm just a big physical winger [adding] toughness when it's needed," said McLaren, one of the last players off the ice at the morning skate. "I haven't heard for sure if I am going to play tonight but I will come ready and see what the lineup is."

In a less likely scenario, Clarke MacArthur may be ready return to action. He has been out with a lacerated finger but was on the ice Saturday morning.

The Maple Leafs have not beaten the Bruins at home since Dec. 4, 2010.

"We never lose respect for our opponents," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think that has served well in the past, because every time you do that, you get surprised and you are not prepared the way you should be. We are certainly a team that right now has an opportunity to finish this four-game stretch this week with a 3 -1 record or if not it's going to be a 2-2 record and for us that's not good enough."

For the Bruins, Daniel Paille did not make the trip north of the border. He remains out after taking a high-stick to the face in a 7-4 loss Thursday to the Buffalo Sabres.

"He is doing better, he got the high stick the other day just underneath the shield and he is progressing," Julien said. "He is a day-to-day situation right now, so we left him behind because our doctors wanted him to be cautious."

Jamie Tardif, a 28-year-old with no NHL experience, has been called up to replace Paille. Tardiff has 30 points in 39 games this season with Boston's American Hockey League affiliate, the Providence Bruins.

Dougie Hamilton, who was the ninth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft for the Bruins with one of the first-round picks acquired from the Maple Leafs in 2009 for Phil Kessel, will play Saturday night in front of friends and family. The 19-year-old from Toronto has shown poise on and off the ice this season and has earned him a full-time roster spot.

"I'm starting to get more adjusted now with the systems and the teammates and stuff like that," Hamilton said. "I think it's a much different game than in junior and [I'm] just trying to get used to that and play my best and have fun."

Here are the projected lineups for the game:

MAPLE LEAFS

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Jay McClementMikhail GrabovskiNikolai Kulemin

Matt FrattinNazem KadriLeo Komarov

Frazer McLarenDavid SteckelColton Orr

Dion Phaneuf – Mike Kostka

Carl GunnarssonJohn-Michael Liles

Mark Fraser - Cody Franson

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

Injured: Mike Brown, Clarke MacArthur, Joffrey Lupul

BRUINS

Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronTyler Seguin

Chris BourqueChris KellyRich Peverley

Lane MacDermidGregory Campbell - Jamie Tardif

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk

Dennis SeidenbergDougie Hamilton

Andrew FerenceAdam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Injured: Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 7:01 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Capitals trade for Wellman to help AHL team

TORONTO -- The Washington Capitals traded for forward Casey Wellman on Thursday, acquiring the rights of the Californian from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Zach Hamill.

The Capitals made the deal in hopes of improving their American Hockey League team, the Hershey Bears. The 11-time Calder Cup champions are ninth in the Eastern Conference and have gone 4-4-1-1 in their past 10 games.

"Hershey isn't playing the way we would like them to play; we have had really good teams there for a number of years and we are just trying to shake things up a little bit," Capitals general manager George McPhee said Thursday before the Capitals played the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 1:53 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Leafs recall Hamilton, claim McLaren off waivers

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3-0) are gunning for their first home win against the Washington Capitals (1-4-1), who are still adjusting to playing under rookie coach Adam Oates.

After stopping 28 shots in the Maple Leafs overtime victory in Buffalo on Tuesday, James Reimer will get the start in goal.

Gritty fourth line forward Mike Brown has a shoulder strain that Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said will keep him out of action for at least seven days. In Brown's place, Toronto has called up Ryan Hamilton, captain of its American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

"He's added another gear … and now he is getting an opportunity tonight and the issue will be where to play him in the lineup," Carlyle said. "Right now we brought him up to fill in for Mike Brown, but we wouldn't be afraid to put him higher in the lineup."

The Maple Leafs also claimed forward Frazer McLaren off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. In 40 career NHL games, all with San Jose, McLaren has registered one goal, five assists and 85 penalty minutes.

Capitals forward Brooks Laich skated with his teammates for the first time this season but he will remain out with a groin injury and there is no timetable on his return.

"The guys gave a little round of applause which is nice," Laich said after leaving the ice. "I wake up feeling better every day -- the more I can get on the ice with the guys, the quicker it will be. As far as a timeline, I can't really tell you, I don't have an exact date, but (I'm) getting closer and closer every day."

Alex Ovechkin, who has one goal this season, also spoke with the media after the morning skate.

"Two points is not good enough for me," Ovechkin said. "It's not my game, I have to be better."

Ovechkin did not record a goal last season in two games in Toronto but did have two assists in Washington's previous game at the Air Canada Centre, a 4-2 win on Feb. 25.

MAPLE LEAFS

James Van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Jay McClement - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Matt Frattin - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Ryan Hamilton - David Steckel - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Michael Kostka

Carl Gunnarsson - John-Michael Liles

Mark Fraser - Cody Franson

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Marcus Johansson - Eric Fehr

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

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Posted On Monday, 01.21.2013 / 2:05 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres likely to stick with Sunday's lineup

TORONTO -- One day after being the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 in their season opener Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres are right back at it Monday here at Air Canada Centre.

Coach Lindy Ruff is expected to go with the same lineup he iced at First Niagara Center against Philadelphia.

Ville Leino took part in the morning skate but will remain out of the lineup with a ¬lower-body injury.

"We'll just take it day by day," Ruff said. "He tried again today and didn't feel well enough to play."

Ryan Miller is projected to get the start in goal.

Here is the lineup the Sabres likely will use Monday night:

Thomas Vanek - Cody Hodgson - Jason Pominville

Marcus Foligno - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford

Steve Ott - Mikhail Grigorenko - Jochen Hecht

John Scott - Matt Ellis - Patrick Kaleta

Robyn Regehr - Tyler Myers

Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer

Jordan Leopold - Andrej Sekera

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Ville Leino

Scratched: Mike Weber, T.J. Brennan

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Posted On Monday, 01.21.2013 / 1:52 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Scrivens likely to start in goal for Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to start Ben Scrivens in goal for their home opener Monday after he had a solid performance Saturday, stopping 21 shots in a 2-1 victory in Montreal on Saturday.

"Any chance you get to play is a huge honor for this franchise," Scrivens said after Monday morning's practice. "Both [James] Reimer and I are going to be called upon this year and we are both going to be ready. We are hoping to be a two-headed monster."

Jake Gardiner, who is recovering from a concussion, also was on the ice Monday morning and said he feels "100 percent," but is waiting for a coach Randy Carlyle to decide when he will play.

"I’m feeling pretty good," Gardiner said. "I am hoping to be back in the next couple of games. It's kind of a waiting game, I'm probably going to practice full-out on Tuesday and see how that goes."

Korbinian Holzer and Mark Fraser are expected to play Monday for the Leafs, while Mike Komisarek and Cody Franson will sit.

Here is how the Leafs' lineup likely will look Monday night:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

James Van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Mike Brown - Jay McClement - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Mike Kostka

John Michael Liles - Carl Gunnarsson

Mark Fraser - Korbinian Holzer

Ben Scrivens

James Reimer

Injured: Jake Gardiner
Scratched: Mike Komisarek, Cody Franson

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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 6:07 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stamkos has chance to reach 60 in hometown

Toronto native Steven Stamkos has already set a career high with 58 goals. The Tampa Bay Lightning star has a chance to be the first NHL player since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08 to reach the 60-goal plateau -- and he'd love nothing more than to do it in his own backyard.

"I think doing it in my home city with a lot of friends and family would be special, but I am not trying to think about that too much," Stamkos said after Tampa Bay's morning skate prior to the Lightning's game against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday night, "I know everyone is going to be trying to get me the puck, no matter what I say -- that's the kind of guys we have on our team. But it would mean a lot more to me if we were closer or if we were in the playoffs."

When Stamkos reached and surpassed 50 goals for the first time in 2009-10, he did it by scoring five times in his last four games. He's riding another season-ending hot streak with eight goals in his last seven games, but the 22-year-old isn't necessarily buying into the notion there is a push to reach 60 goals.

"The 50-goal plateau is kind of the number in hockey and I hadn't done before that in my career," he said. "We were kind of out of the playoffs. I probably had 30 shots in the last three games with guys were just trying to get me the puck the whole time. I mean it's a big deal to even get the chance to get that number. ... Guys are looking to pass to me, that's obvious over the past couple of games but it's not something I'm pressing."

Martin St. Louis, who leads the club in assists with 47, admits that with a 60-goal season for his linemate in sight, there might be an added incentive for Stamkos' teammates to get the puck to No. 91 whenever possible. "Maybe you tend to look for him a little more with a deadline like this and being so close to a goal," he said, "but he is hard not to look for just because of how good of a goal scorer he is."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:46 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lupul skates, laments season-ending shoulder injury

TORONTO -- Ahead of their last home game of the season, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was on the ice Thursday morning. He skated for the first time since succumbing to a shoulder injury on March 6. He will not be in the lineup against Tampa and will also miss the final game of the season in Montreal.

"Hopefully another week or so of rehab and working on some things and I'll be ready 100 percent," said the 28-year-old Lupul, who was arguably Toronto's most valuable player this season before the injury. He had a career-high 67 points in 66 games.

Lupul, who has faced his fair share of set backs throughout his career, feels the timing of the injury could not have been worse.

"It was extra tough because we we're still in the midst of a playoff chase," he said. "We had been struggling right before I went out, and then to watch what happened over the next couple of weeks was pretty difficult. ... Everything went wrong, we didn't get the job done as a team."

Fellow Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski, who is recovering from a leg laceration suffered this past Saturday, also hit the ice but is not expected to play Thursday evening.

Tampa did not hold a skate after playing last night in Montreal, falling to the Canadiens, 5-2.

Here are the Maple Leafs' projected lines:

Matt Frattin - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Joey Crabb
Tim Connolly - David Steckel - Mike Brown
Jay Rosehill - Carter Ashton - Colby Armstrong

Dion Phaneuf - Mike Komisarek
John Michael-Liles - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Ben Scrivens
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 5:59 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Myers out for Sabres against Maple Leafs

The Buffalo Sabres will be without defenseman Tyler Myers and Mike Weber as they play a pivotal game Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. 

The Sabres are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, tied in points with the Washington Capitals who have more non-shootout victories.  The Capitals play host to the Canadiens on Saturday.

While Weber was expected to miss the game, the news about Myers came as more of a shock.

“He’s going to miss tonight’s game,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff matter of factly, adding that Myers is “Day-to-day right now.”

Because of the injuries, Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan are expected to play on the back end for Buffalo.

“You’ve got to live off your experiences, we had some really good play out of Brayden," Ruff said. "We had some good play out of T.J.  It’s just handling the extra minutes and where we put them that has sometimes been a problem.  I think we are going to try and get them some good ice time and see how the other pairs make out.”

Because of the conundrum his club faces, Ruff is counting on his forwards to pick up the slack with two of his regular defenseman out of the lineup.

“We have to deal with it better this time than we did last time," Ruff said. "We’re a little deeper up front.  We might have to score a little more. I think we are capable of that. I think our forwards have to pick up a little bit of the slack, we need to control more of the play and take the pressure off our D in this situation.”

Ruff acknowledged that Myers injury came after taking a shot in the foot of a 5-3 loss Friday to Pittsburgh.  Weber was felled by a Matt Cooke hit in the same game.

While Ruff would not confirm that Miller is starting in net, there is a good bet he will be between the pipes as playing on back-to-back nights is not uncommon for the Sabres.

“We’re used to dealing with it, we’ve tried to adapt, do the right things, but it’s just part of our schedule," Ruff said.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 3:26 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gustavsson out, but could return next week for Leafs

Jonas Gustavsson took a shot off his left knee in the warm up prior to a 7-1 loss Thursday to the Philadelphia Flyers.  Gustavsson had to be helped to the dressing room where he recieved treatment and then returned to the bench at the start of the second period. When asked if his keeper would be lost for the balance of the season, Randy Carlyle indicated that was not the case. 

"Jonas Gustavsson is not available [today]," Carlyle said Saturday morning. "I think the improvement he showed between yesterday and today was very encouraging. The bruise and where it is affects his ability to get up, get down and move around the crease.  It's not anything other than a deep bruise. As crazy as it sounds, why there is no padding there is beyond me."

Meanwhile, Jussi Rynnas will back up Ben Scrivens against the Sabres.  He spent part of the morning skate working on positioning with Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire. 

"He wanted me to do everything a little bit faster, with a little bit more control, play the right corners and find the post, those things," Rynnas said.

Rynnas was pressed into his first NHL start Thursday and said his teamates were encouraging after he allowed seven goals on 30 shots. 

"I'm not going to put my head down, its helped me so much that guys said things like the team made mistakes too," he said.
 
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 3:13 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Scrivens expected to start in goal for Leafs

Ben Scrivens is expected to start in goal Saturday for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they face the Buffalo Sabres for the fifth time this season. 

Scrivens has eight career games under his belt, all played this season.  The bulk of his workload was in November, shortly after James Reimer sustained a concussion in Montreal on October 22nd.  He has posted a 2-4-1 record, and his last start was November 20th in Carolina where he had 38 saves in a 3-2 loss. 

“I played a couple of games, Monster [Jonas Gustavsson] was playing really good at that time too, in my mind it was never – I’m here for good, it was focus one day at a time and be ready to go if I was playing that day and if I wasn’t...try and get as much as I could from practice.” said Scrivens by his dressing room stall after a spirited morning skate at Air Canada Centre. “That is my approach at this point too, exactly what I was saying before, one game at a time”

Less than 24 hours prior, his focus was with the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate.  Scrivens stopped 33 shots in a 5-4 overtime win against Buffalo's AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, Scrivens and after the game found out that he was called up.

“It’s the life of a third [goalie] I guess, you always got to be ready, you never know when things are gonna’ change and they can change overnight," Scrivens said. "My focus last night was on beating Rochester and we had a gutsy overtime win – hopped in a car and came up here.  If I’m going tonight – I’ll be ready.”

The Maple Leafs are facing a tumultuous time with 5-17-3 record in their last 25 games and mounting player frustration along with fan backlash.  However, Scrivens is not phased -- in large part because of the success of his AHL club.

“When we are down with the Marlies, we’re not counting off points for the Leafs and seeing about their playoff push, we’re worried about ourselves down there and we’ve got ourselves in a good position for the playoffs,” Scrivens said.

Defenseman Mike Komisarek confirmed he will be in the lineup tonight, which means Cody Franson is likely to sit.

After a 5-3 loss Friday night to Pittsburgh, the Sabres have yet another crucial game in their push for the playoffs.  They currently sit in ninth position in the Eastern Conference, tied in points with the eighth place Washington Capitals but with fewer non-shootout victories. Washington plays host to Montreal on Saturday evening.  They will also know by puck drop if they can catch the seventh-place Senators, who play Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. They trail Ottawa by just two points.

“I think Buffalo has been a team that has really turned their team around specifically in the last 25 games," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, whose Ducks lost 4-1 to the Sabres in Helsinki, Finland October 7, in what was the opening game of the NHL season for both clubs. 

Carlyle also spoke of his players need to be less apprehensive. 

“The fear factor around our group is very high right now and when you play with fear it doesn’t allow you to do the things that naturally come to you...you can’t play the game in total fear,” he said.

As expected, after playing last night, Buffalo had only four players take to the ice Saturday morning -- forwards Jochan Hecht, Matt Ellis and Nathan Gerbe and goaltender Jhnonas Enroth.

The clubs have split their first four meetings, with the home team winning each time.

Here is the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:

Matt Frattin - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski -Joey Crabb
Carter Ashton - Tim Connolly - Mike Brown
Jay Rosehill - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Mike Komisarek
 
Ben Scrivens
Jussi Rynnas

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Posted On Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 2:47 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Likely lineups for Flyers, Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Here are the expected lineups the Flyers and Maple Leafs will use Thursday when they face off at Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS
Matthew Lombardi - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Carter Ashton - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Jay Rosehill - Colby Armstrong - Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
Jussi Rynnas

With James Reimer out with an upper-body injury, Gustavsson likely will start the remainder of the games.

David Steckel will be a game-time decision because of a lower-body injury.

"I've got a sheet of paper, there's about 15 different combinations I have put down there." said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "I would think that you are going to see Tim Connolly go to the middle with Carter Ashton and (Joey) Crabb, that is tentatively on one of those little pieces of paper."

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot - Zac Rinaldo
Matt Read - Eric Wellwood - Jakub Voracek

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossman
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Pavel Kubina - Erik Gustafsson

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jason Bacashihua

The Flyers are without goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Kimmo Timonen, neither of whom made the trip. Bryzgalov has a chip fracture in his right foot, while Timonen is taking a game off to treat an upper-body injury.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 2:13 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lindros joins Flyers for morning skate



TORONTO -- The Flyers had a special guest on the ice at their morning skate Thursday here at Air Canada Centre -- Eric Lindros, who skated onto the ice in his old black and orange colors, wearing a black helmet, emblazoned with No.  88.

"It was a lot of fun," said Lindros, who spent the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Flyers. "Anytime you can wake up and head to this building and go have some fun on the ice, it's a blast."

He joined the club at the behest of Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

"(Holmgren) gave me a call, said come down to the room, say hello to the guys, go out for a skate," said Lindros.

Philadelphia is back at Air Canada Centre for the second time this month in hopes of sweeping the season series with the Maple Leafs. Philadelphia currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Penguins for the final home-ice slot in the playoffs.

On March 10, Philadelphia came up with a 1-0 victory on the strength of a beautiful shootout goal by Claude Giroux. Ilya Bryzgalov earned the shutout victory that night, but will not play and is not with the team due to a chip fracture in his right foot suffered Monday. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to get the start in goal, with Jason Bacashihua recalled from AHL Adirondack to serve as the backup.

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen also did not make the trip for the Flyers, with Marc-Andre Bourdon called up from the AHL on Wednesday to play in his place.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 6:49 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rangers projected lineups

TORONTO -- Despite playing back-to-back nights, Rangers coach John Tortorella has elected to go with Henrik Lundqvist when the club meets the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

"He has plenty of rest, our team has had plenty of rest," Tortorella said late this afternoon. "They are off again tomorrow. I think we have done what we need to do with the club as far as resting. We need to also get need to get Hank into some sort of flow as far as playing games – so he goes tonight."

Lundqvist has lost twice to Toronto this season and was on the bench in place of Martin Biron in the lone victory against the Maple Leafs, a 3-0 blanking at the Air Canada Centre on Jan. 14.

The Rangers not only lost last night's contest 4-1 to Buffalo, but they also lost forward Mats Zuccarello to a broken wrist, which he suffered in the first period. While Tortorella did not tip his hand as to who will fill the void left by Zuccarello, the odds-on favorite is veteran Ruslan Fedotenko.
 
"I know Feds very well … he is a good player and has been a good player for us," Tortorella said. "This is the time of year where he needs to find his defensive game and offensive game, and I believe he will."

Fedotenko has been a healthy scratch for the last two games. In 65 games played this season, he has eight goals and eight assists along with a minus-10 rating. He has been in the lineup for all three games against Toronto this season.
 
Here are the projected lines for the Rangers:

Brandon DubinskyDerek StepanRyan Callahan
Carl HagelinBrad RichardsMarian Gaborik
Artem AnisimovBrian BoyleRuslan Fedotenko
Brandon PrustJohn MitchellMike Rupp

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalMichael Del Zotto
Tim ErixonStu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:33 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rangers out to retain hold on first in East

The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet for a fourth and final time Saturday at Air Canada Centre. Toronto took the first two games of the season series but lost 3-0 to the Rangers in their last meeting.
 
While Martin Biron earned the shutout in that game, the Rangers will start Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed four goals Friday night in a loss to the surging Buffalo Sabres.  The All-Star netminder was in net for both losses earlier in the season to Toronto.
 
New York sits atop the Eastern Conference but they are in a fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins for that mantle.  A loss in Toronto, combined with a Penguins win in Ottawa, will vault Pittsburgh ahead of the Rangers.
 
The Maple Leafs are also playing the second of back- to-back contests.  Nazem Kadri scored a lovely shootout goal, faking to the backhand and then going forehand to beat Martin Brodeur and give Toronto a 4-3 victory Friday night in New Jersey.
 
“I am pretty happy with how it ended,” said Kardi of his heroics at Prudential Center.  “It was pretty nerve wracking going in one-on-one with Marty Brodeur.” 
 
He also scored a goal in regulation, which gives him five on the season.
 
The young forward has spent the majority of the season with the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, and was called up on an emergency basis Thursday along with forward Ryan Hamilton after Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur both went down to injuries.
 
The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft had his first opportunity to play for coach Randy Carlyle on Friday. Carlyle was complimentary of Kadri, but feels that there is much more work ahead for the 21-year-old.
 
“I don’t want things to get blown out of proportion, that’s one thing about this market, when somebody has success there is a lot of accolades and he earned them last night.” Carlyle said. “But he is a young player that has to push to be better, and give us the type of minutes that are safe ... he has areas to improve and defensive play would be one of them.”
 
James Reimer stopped 43 shots to earn the victory against the Devils, but there was no indication whether he or Jonas Gustavsson will be starting against the Rangers. Gustavsson has been in net for all three meetings with the Rangers this season.
 
Injured forward Mike Brown skated Saturday, one of nine forwards and defenseman that took part in the optional skate. He indicated that he is still not ready to play at this juncture but hopes to return within the week.
“I guess if there is practice tomorrow, I will go full practice with the team and hopefully get a few practices in before Tuesday and if not Tuesday then maybe Thursday,” Brown said. “At this point, [I’ll] just see how it is every day and listen to the trainers and wait for them to tell me if I am OK to play.”
 
Carlyle also expressed that he will go with a similar lineup to the one he deployed Friday night. Here is the projected lineup for the Leafs:
 
Matthew Lombardi - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Nazem Kadri - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Hamilton
Tim Connolly - David Steckel - Joey Crabb
Jay Rosehill - Carter Ashton - Colby Armstrong

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Mike Komisarek - John Michael-Liles
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner
Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs try to bounce back vs. Islanders

TORONTO -- Less than 24 hours after an 8-0 loss at Boston completed the Bruins' sweep of the six-game season series against Toronto, the Maple Leafs have the opportunity to sweep a series of their own tonight against the New York Islanders.

"Just from last night, I think it's huge to get a bounce back here," defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. "It's always good to get back home after being on the road for 10 days. In all ways for everyone, I think it's good to be back home again."

The Maple Leafs finished their five-game road trip with 2-3-0 record.

Despite the fact that they have beaten the Islanders on three occasions this season by a combined score of 12-6 and can go a perfect 4-0 on the season against a conference foe, Gunnarsson and his mates are still focusing on the bigger picture.

"Looking at the standings, it doesn't matter what team we play, what we've done before against that team, we just want to win every game," he said. "If we sweep the Islanders and not make the playoffs, it doesn't mean anything."

The Maple Leafs are eight points out of eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with nine games remaining. Despite the almost insurmountable task, defenseman John Michael-Liles feels that the only way for the club to look is forward.

"Unfortunately games like that are going to happen and you move on from it. (We have to )go into every game and try and get two points, that's all we can focus on is going out and try and win every game and giving ourselves the best opportunity to get two points each and every night."

Liles and Gunnarsson ended up with a combined minus-5 rating in Boston. They were hardly alone in that department -- only three Leafs finished without a minus rating. Jay Rosehill and Colby Armstrong both ended up even at TD Garden, as did Matthew Lombardi who will play in his 500th career game tonight.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Isles look to avoid series sweep at hands of Leafs

TORONTO -- The New York Islanders have fallen to the Toronto Maple Leafs on three occasions this season and will attempt to snap the slide Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre in the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano will start Evgeni Nabokov in goal and said he will ice the same lineup that came away with a 3-2 shootout win in Montreal on Saturday

"(It will be) the same forward lines as Montreal and we're going to dress seven defensemen and determine (who is in) after warm-up," Capuano said.

The seventh defenseman that is most likely to sit is Steve Staios, who skated this morning but was shaking his head and wincing while testing his stride. The 38-year-old is having issues with a groin injury.

Isles star John Tavares, who is from the Toronto area, had his four-game points streak snapped in Montreal. A few days off between games, with extra time to catch up with friends and family, is something the 21-year old welcomed.

"I got a nice couple of days to relax and not have all the craziness within the 24 hours," Tavares said, referring to the brief window of time he usually has when he comes back to Toronto for a game.

The last time Tavares played at the Air Canada Centre on Jan. 23, he had his 12-game points streak snapped as the Islanders were shut out 3-0.

"All the games were pretty tight all year," Tavares said. "Obviously we haven't come out and got the result we wanted. It was a little bit of a while ago so (we have to) just try and come in tonight and jump on them early. They played last night and had a tough one, so I am sure they will try and respond tonight."

The "tough one" Tavares was referring to was Toronto's 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. As expected, no one skated this morning for the Maple Leafs and it remains up in the air if Randy Carlyle will shuffle his lines and who will be between the pipes for the blue and white when they hit the ice later tonight.

While not mathematically eliminated, neither club is expected to be playing any postseason hockey this year.  Regardless, New York forward Matt Moulson foresees that both clubs to play with a charge.

"They are going to come out with a spark and some spunk and we will be ready for that right off the start," he said.

Here's tonight's projected lineup for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Frans Nielsen - Josh BaileyPA Parenteau
David Ullstrom - Casey Cizikas - Michael Grabner
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Dylan Reese
Travis Hamonic - Andrew Macdonald
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya
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Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 2:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers trying to stay perfect in March

Philadelphia is perfect in March and look to keep things rolling Saturday night in Toronto against a Maple Leafs squad that is fading fast in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

The Flyers have won all four games in March, including a 5-0 drubbing of the Florida Panthers on Thursday.  Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 28 shots for his second shutout in his past three starts and will be in net again tonight for Philadelphia.

The perfect start to the month is more impressive when factoring in the injuries to the Flyers blueline corps. Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen and newcomer Pavel Kubina are all out of the lineup with different ailments.

In their place on the ice this morning were rookies Eric Gustafsson and Brandon Manning, who will play in just his second career game.

Manning is not the only player who will hit the ice tonight with limited NHL experience.  Toronto’s deadline-day acquisition, Carter Ashton, will make his home debut after playing in his first game Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

“Its' been a whirlwind for sure.  I’m just trying to take it day by day and try to make the best of it,” Ashton said.  “With the few days I have been here, I have obviously learned a lot, jumping into my first NHL game.  I was nervous going into it, but got a chance to be in the starting line –up which got me right into it.”

 His father, Brent, is former a NHL player who is expected to be in attendance along with some other family members.   The senior Ashton played for nine NHL teams including Winnipeg where a fellow Jet was current Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

 The tight lipped Toronto bench boss is expected to start Jonas Gustavsson for the fifth straight game which gives “The Monster” the task of garnering the Leafs their first win this season against the Flyers.  Toronto dropped the first two games by a combined score of 8-5.
 
“They are a bruising hockey club and they do some things aggressively on the forecheck," Carlyle said. "They are a hockey club that takes the most penalties in the League, so if we can exploit that and get our speed game going, that’s what we have to focus on."

It will also mark the first time the Schenn brothers do battle in a regular-season game in Toronto.  The younger of the two, Brayden, scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Flyers in the last meeting between the clubs February 9 in Philadelphia.

Older brother Luke, who patrols the blue line for Toronto, looks forward to another battle tonight, one that neither of the siblings feel ever gets old. 

“It definitely hasn’t worn off," Luke Schenns said. "It’s always pretty cool every time you get the chance to play against your little brother.”
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Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flyers, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lineups for a game Saturday night between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers at Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS

Tim Connolly - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Carter Ashton - David Steckel - Joey Crabb
Jay Rosehill - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell Claude Giroux Brayden Schenn
Matt Read Danny Briere Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot Sean Couturier Zac Rinaldo
Jody Shelley Eric Wellwood Jaromir Jagr

Nicklas Grossman  - Braydon Couburn
Matt Carle - Eric Gustafsson
Andreas Lilja - Brandon Manning

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 2:06 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Versteeg out for Panthers; Leafs go with Reimer

TORONTO -- Leading goal scorer Kris Versteeg will not play for the Florida Panthers versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. 

"He has a little bit of a lower-body injury that has been bugging him for about a week," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said after the morning skate. "He's wanted to play through it, but when he is not 100 percent he doesn't have that extra step."

Dineen confirmed that Versteeg did not make the trip to Toronto and will not play until being evaluated next week. 

It is expected Dineen will use Wojtek Wolski and Jack Skille to varying degrees in hopes of filling the void left by Versteeg's absence. 

Versteeg did play in Florida's victory over Montreal on Sunday, but did not finish the game.

Jose Theodore will start in net for the Panthers, while Toronto coach Ron Wilson has elected to start James Reimer despite being critical of the netminder's performance in a loss to Washington on Saturday night.

"It's Reimer, because we believe he can get the job done," Wilson said in his pre-game press conference. 

Wilson, who will be coaching his 1,400th NHL game, confirmed defenseman Mike Komisarek will also be in the lineup, taking the place of Cody Franson.

"It's very competitive on our back end," Wilson said. "Sometimes he is out because other guys have played better, sometimes he is out because we have won with a certain group. Tonight he needs to be physical and make simple plays, move the puck, keep it out of the middle and be aggressive."

Komisarek has been a healthy scratch for the past four games and last saw action on Feb. 15.

The Panthers visit will mark the end of Toronto's four-game homestand in which the Leafs have only earned one of a possible six points. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs, with the Panthers having taken both previous meetings by a combined score of 10-4. The 10th-place Maple Leafs trail the Panthers by five points in the Eastern Conference race.

The Panthers have taken five of a possible six points in their past three games.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 1:16 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Panthers, Maple Leafs

Here's how the lineups project when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Florida Panthers tonight from the Air Canada Centre:

PANTHERS
Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Tomas Kopecky - Wojtek Wolski
Shawn MatthiasMike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Krystofer Barch - John Madden - Jerred Smithson

Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Nikolai Kulemin
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Joey Crabb

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:17 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Neuvirth gets the nod against Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Michal Neuvirth will get the start for the Washington Capitals tonight versus the Toronto Maple Leafs after backstopping his club to a 4-1 victory Friday in Montreal.

"He was solid, he didn't give up many rebounds," Caps coach Dale Hunter said. "We didn't have a lot of work for him last night, so it wasn't like a real hard game for him.  With this team here, with the speed they got and the scoring they got, he's going to have to be really ready in the first period."

Neuvirth relieved Tomas Vokoun in a 7-1 road loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 19.  He allowed 3 goals on 11 shots after entering play in the second period.

Defenseman Mike Green echoed Hunter's sentiments.

"I thought he was outstanding. He made the big saves when he needed to," Green said. "I am sure it's not easy for him because he is in and out of the lineup. He handles himself very well and we need more out of him down the stretch.  We need to win some games and it's going to start with our goaltending."

Green, who has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in the past three games, says he is getting close to hitting his stride since returning from abdominal injury on Feb. 18.

"It's taken these last couple of games to get my feel again with being out so long," Green said. "I'm finally starting to come into my own again and feel the way I used to.

Green has not faced the Leafs in the two games the clubs have played this season.

Hunter, an Ontario native, will coach his first NHL game in Toronto.

"It's always nice to come to Toronto," Hunter said. "It's near my hometown and I grew up watching the Leafs."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:47 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Capitals, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lineups for the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs. They play Saturday night at Air Canada Centre:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Marcus JohanssonKeith Aucoin
Jay Beagle - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman

Michal Neuvirth
Tomas Vokoun
 
MAPLE LEAFS
 
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Mike BrownDavid Steckel - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:03 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs, Caps vie for critical points at ACC

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Washington Capitals tonight at Air Canada Centre in what will be there third meeting this season.  Each team has won once.

As it stands, both clubs are on the outside of the playoff picture with 65 points and trailing the eighth-place Florida Panthers by one in the standings.

For Toronto, getting off to the right start is imperative. They have not held a lead after the first 20 minutes in the first two games of their current homestand and ended up losing both contests by one goal.

“That’s what we need tonight, is to be aggressive right off the bat and take it to them as quickly as possible, not wait.” coach Ron Wilson said.  “We’ve got to initiate things, especially with Washington and us in the (same) proximity in the standings and the fact they played last night.”

Wilson also confirmed that James Reimer would start in goal for the second straight game.

Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs second-leading scorer, acknowledged that opponents have been looking to mitigate Toronto’s speed, something which has contributed to their recent woes. 

“It’s something we got to be prepared for, we might not get 15 or 20 scoring chances in a game but we have to be ready to score when we do," Lupul said. "On the other hand we have to limit other team’s chances.  These guys are a team with a lot of top end talent.  We want to try and limit Ovechkin and Semin in their time and space.”

Leafs forward Darryl Boyce and was claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.  Boyce had a goal and an assist in 17 games for Toronto this season.  Fellow forward Jay Rosehill cleared waivers and was sent to Toronto’s AHL Affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

The moves made room for the Maple Leafs to call up forward Matt Frattin, who will play tonight.  The rookie has 10 points in 37 games with the Leafs so far this season.  Forward Colby Armstrong will also play tonight.

After a 4-1 win Friday against Montreal, the Capitals had only four players on the ice for the morning skate. Goalie Tomas Vokoun was on the ice but Michal Neurvirth is expected to start for the second straight night after stopping 30 shots for the victory Friday.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:42 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs, Sharks both badly in need of two points

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks rarely play each other, but when they do battle Thursday night at Air Canada Center, it will be a contest between two teams that share some troubling similarities.

Both clubs have been struggling as of late and are fighting to hold on to a playoff position in their respective conferences.

The Maple Leafs will start James Reimer after Jonas Gustavsson had a tough night between the pipes on Tuesday night, allowing Mark Fayne's knuckling shot to get by him in overtime in a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. With that loss, Toronto is 1-5-1 in the past seven games heading into action on Thursday.

"That game is in the past, I don't really even want to talk about it," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said after the morning skate Thursday. "We have to move forward very quickly, whether you win a game or you lose a game. Our thoughts are not even close to two nights ago, they are focused on what we have to do to play well as a group today and beat a team that's got a lot of experience, a lot of skill up front. ... They are a very good team and we expect a tough game tonight."

Toronto currently holds on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, tied with ninth-place Winnipeg with 65 points.

One of the many talented players Phaneuf and the Leafs defensive corps will have to deal with is Sharks forward Logan Couture. Couture has set a blistering pace since the All-Star break, recording 15 points in 11 games.  However, as well as he has played, helping correct his team's losing ways is what is on his mind.  

"It's nice scoring goals but you'd rather have the team winning games," Couture said. "I'd rather go goalless for five games if the team could win the next five."

The Sharks are coming off an unexpected 6-3 loss to last place Columbus and have one point in their last four outings. Despite Niemi being pulled versus the Jackets, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has elected to start him again tonight with plenty on the line. A Sharks loss tonight combined with a Coyotes win could drop San Jose to seventh place.

"We're in a playoff race right now, something that we haven't been accustomed to, normally we're out in front,"  McLellan said. "I had to remind the players of that yesterday. Toronto's in the same boat we are, I expect both teams to be competitive from minute one on through."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Maple Leafs

Here's the projected rosters for San Jose and Toronto as they face off Thursday night at Air Canada Centre:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau- Joe Thornton- Joe Pavelski
Tommy Wingels- Logan Couture- Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn- Torrey Mitchell - Benn Ferriero
Brad Winchester- Michal Handzus - Andrew Desjardins

Colin White- Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic- Brent Burns
Jason Demers- Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul- Tyler Bozak- Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur- Mikhail Grabovski- Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi- Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Darryl Boyce- David Steckel- Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson- Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner- Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:29 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gunnarsson, Lupul in as Leafs face hot Devils

The New Jersey Devils are on a roll and they would like to keep it that way as they head into Air Canada Centre to face the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Devils have an impressive 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games.

Their post All-Star surge has them sitting in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings and they are tied with the second-place Bruins at 72 points.

“Before the break (we went on) a little bit of a slide.” said Calder Trophy candidate Adam Henrique after the morning skate.  “The guys came out of the All-Star break and played really well, started finding ways to win, different ways to win, and we’ve kept that rolling.”

Henrique spent a good portion of the morning skate working on face-offs with assistant coach Adam Oates. Henrique leads all rookies with 39 points.

“That’s something we do every day, he’s one of the best faceoff guys to ever play," Henrique said. "He knows so many little things about the game that he tries to teach us and I’m just like a sponge out there and try to take it all in...He’s been a huge part of my improvement over the year.” 

Martin Brodeur will get the start in goal for New Jersey. He has won his past three starts, allowing only four goals in that span. Kurtis Foster, who is dealing with a back injury, participated in drills this morning and while coach Peter DeBeor indicated he would be a game-time decision, there is reason to believe Peter Harrold will lace up in his place for the second straight game.

Anton Volchenkov was also on the ice for the morning skate, sporting a nasty cut from a puck in the face he received in a victory Sunday in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Toronto still holds onto eighth place in the East after Washington failed to pass the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot with a shutout loss to Carolina on Monday.

Ron Wilson confirmed that both Joffrey Lupul and Carl Gunnarsson will be in the lineup tonight for the Maple Leafs. Lupul missed practice Monday with a foot injury but didn’t show any problems on the ice Tuesday morning. Gunnarsson’s ankle injury kept him from the Leafs' three-game Western Canadian tour, and they took home only two of a possible six points.

“We didn’t play so well on that Western swing against some tough teams. Back home we have to make things count, obviously in a dog fight,” said Toronto forward Colby Armstrong, who is happy in knowing that Lupul and Gunnarsson will be good to go tonight versus the Devils. “Both those guys are warriors. I think Gunner is one of the more underrated players on our team for sure. Obviously Loops (Lupul) is a big time player for our team ... those guys in our lineup is huge for our success.”

Meanwhile, the game of musical chairs continues in the Toronto crease continues as Jonas Gustavsson gets the start.  He made a relief appearance for James Reimer in the Maple Leafs' last game, a 6-2 loss in Vancouver on Saturday night.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Likely lineups for Devils, Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Devils and Maple Leafs take the ice tonight at Air Canada Centre:

DEVILS
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Dainius Zubrus - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
 
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur will start in goal, with Johan Hedberg the backup.
 
MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal, with James Reimer the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:55 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lineups for Maple Leafs, Oilers

TORONTO -- Here are the lineups the Maple Leafs and Oilers likely will use tonight when the teams meet at the Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Mathew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
 
James Reimer will be back in goal. Jonas Gustavsson will serve as the backup

OILERS

Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Jones - Eric Belanger - Ryan Smyth
Lennart Petrell - Anton Lander - Ben Eager

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Cam Barker - Andy Sutton
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal, with Nikolai Khabibulin the backup.

The game also marks the return home for Gagner, named the NHL's First Star of the Week for his record scoring outburst last week.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:03 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gagner brings hot stick home to face Leafs

TORONTO -- Call him Sam the Record Man.

On Thursday, Edmonton center Sam Gagner tied a club record with eight points in an 8-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, and he followed that by factoring in on his team's first three goals Saturday's 5-4 shootout win against the Red Wings. Gagner's outburst set a new club record with points on 11 straight Oilers goals.

On Monday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the Week as he prepared to play against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night

Gagner said he's hungry to continue to make a large-scale impact.

"When you get an opportunity, you want to be the guy that steps up and takes it," said Gagner. "Over the last few games, I have gotten the opportunity to play with Taylor (Hall) and Jordan (Eberle), both great players. I enjoy playing with skilled players, especially of their caliber. I think it brings out the best in me. When you play with guys that skilled, you kind of have to have the mindset that you want to be the guy."

Tonight, Gagner will be playing in front of friends and his family who reside in nearby Oakville, Ont., and include his father, former NHL player Dave Gagner. The senior Gagner was an assistant coach under Dale Hunter with the OHL's London Knights, and has had a massive impact on his son's career.

"He's a guy I owe everything too," said Sam. "We talk so much about the game, and the ups and downs of what it brings. Obviously it took him a few years to become a regular NHLer that put up really good numbers. I try to listen to him as much as I can about what it takes to get through those slumps."

Gagner was in his own slump prior to his record-setting scoring outburst, with no goals and four assists in the 11 prior games.

"I think the advice he has given me, if I didn't have it, I don't know where it would be," said Gagner.

Talk of his scoring has at least changed the discussion from the trade rumors that had surrounded the 22-year-old, now in his fifth NHL season.

"It's tough to deal with that, I've never really dealt with it before," he said. "I think as long as I can continue ... where I am not worrying about the outside factors I can't really control and just worrying about my game and relishing the opportunity that I get every night, than hopefully things can continue to work out and I can continue to grow as a player."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 7:11 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Pens go for sweep of Leafs

After overcoming a 4-1 third-period deficit to beat Toronto 5-4 in a shootout on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins will go for a sweep of the Leafs at Air Canada Centre in the second half of a back-to-back series.

"We're very fortunate, we feel - to have gotten the two points," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said late Wednesday afternoon. Pittsburgh was down by three goals in the third but managed to erase the deficit in regulation on Evgeni Malkin's late goal in the dying seconds, he scored the only goal of the shootout to win it.

"We certainly tap out goalie on the pads for a number of the big saves he made throughout the game, especially in the third..."

After making 35 saves last night, Marc-Andre Fleury will get a rest; backup Brent Johnson gets his first start since Jan. 10, when he was pulled in a loss two the Senators. Defenseman, Ben Lovejoy will also play tonight -- his first game since Jan. 17. Deryk Engelland will have the night off.

James Reimer will get the start in goal for Toronto. While he has not started in two weeks, he has used his time backing up Jonas Gustavsson to absorb as much as he can. "In every situation there is a chance to learn, when you are on the bench you get to see the game from a difference perspective," he said. "Overall, when you watch the really successful goalies, they play with a lot of intensity and they do anything to stop the puck, maybe that is something I will try to put more into my game."

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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 3:40 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Islanders hit Toronto on a hot streak

TORONTO -- The New York Islanders, winners of three straight games, head into Toronto tonight playing their best hockey of the season. They boast the League's hottest player in John Tavares, who has a season-long 12-game point-scoring streak; an up-and-coming play maker in PA Parenteau, who enters tonight's action fifth in the League in assists; and the NHL’s Third Star of the past week, goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

"We're executing more, we're starting to put 60-minute games together more frequently," said Tavares who has eight goals and 13 assists during his streak.

"When we are having tough stretches I feel like we're bouncing back and responding with solid shifts, big goals, big penalty kills and big saves, and we are coming up in those key moments in games and making some plays where overall it's making a difference for the end result."

Toronto will be playing their last of nine home games this month. They started the new year with four straight victories at Air Canada Centre but have tumbled recently, losing four of five and three of their last four at home.

"Their power play is just behind ours in the League and over the last 10 games or so it's about 35 percent," said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "A lot of their offense is coming from the power play. By playing the way we have been, and not taking penalties will help, if we do take a penalty, (we need to) continue to be as aggressive as we have."

Wilson also acknowledged the play of Nabokov and his impact on the Isles. Wilson knows Nabokov well from their time together in San Jose.

"Nabokov is giving them solid goaltending (and) that's a huge plus," said Wilson. "A veteran presence in net who doesn't really get rattled. And when you get that kind of goaltending, your offence perks up and all areas of your game gets a little better."

Toronto enters the game two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Islanders can pull within five points of the ninth-place Leafs with a victory.

The Maple Leafs took the teams' only other meeting this season between the two clubs, skating away with a 5-3 victory Dec. 23 on Long Island.
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 2:52 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Islanders, Maple Leafs

Here's how the lines could look tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York Islanders at Air Canada Centre:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Brian Rolston - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Tim Wallace - Nino Niederreiter - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Andrew MacDonald - Milan Jurcina
Mark Eaton - Dylan Reese

Evgeni Nabokov

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Nazem Kadri
Clarke MacArthur - David Steckel - Mike Brown
 
Dion Phaneuf - Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 2:43 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lupul honored to be named Chara's assistant for ASG

Joffrey Lupul has been having a stand out season, and Saturday he found out he was named as an assistant captain to Zdeno Chara at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa.

The 28-year-old sits near the top of League scoring and has set a career high in assists in the process.

“It’s an honor and to even have my name thought of was pretty cool,” said Lupul after the morning skate on Saturday.  “They told me to just try and have fun with it and I will try to make it as fun as possible for the fans.”

At the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh, Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel was selected last.  With Lupul in a position of influence, it seems that things won’t shake down as they did a year ago.

“Chara can be an intimidating guy, I think we’ll take his guy first,” joked Lupul. “Obviously I want to try and take Phil and Dion (Phaneuf), if we can work that.”

Lupul has always been known to have a tremendous upside – he was drafted seventh overall in 2002 – but was long plagued by injury trouble.  The fact that he is finally 100 percent healthy is an obvious reason for his success this season.

“Definitely I was a step behind last year,” Lupul said. “It was good to get those games in at the end of last year and then having a full off season to just train and feel confident about my body, that was big for me.”

Toronto plays a Montreal squad that is coming off a tough 5-4 shootout loss in Pittsburgh on Friday night and when the final whistle sounds, will have played their third game in four nights. 

“You want to definitely try and jump on the team early,” Lupul said. “They’re going to be tired a little bit but being tired doesn’t mean you can’t play a solid team game.  After a loss last night, we expect them to come out and play well but we should have a little more jump.”

It will be the third meeting of the rivals and the Leafs have won twice, but the two squads have not faced off in nearly three months.  That span of time has been tumultuous for Les Blue, Blanc et Rouge.

They have fired their coach and traded a cornerstone player.  With all the distractions and adversity Montreal has faced, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is still weary of the threat they pose.

“The biggest thing for them is they just haven’t gotten results this year,” Phaneuf said. “They’ve got talent in their lineup; they’ve got a lot of speed.  We know they are going to come out and expect a big game here. It’s Saturday night and it’s Toronto-Montreal in Toronto, they’re fun games to be a part of.”

Here’s the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:

Matthew Lombardi - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Nazem Kadri
Joey Crabb - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Dion Phaneuf - Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson

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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:18 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Biron starts, Dubinsky remains out for Rangers

TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs have had the Rangers number this season, and so tonight the Blueshirts will switch things up slightly. After suffering a pair of 4-2 losses to Toronto, coach John Tortorella has elected to start Martin Biron -- who has yet to face the Leafs this season, but sports an impressive 8-2-0 record as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. 

"It's been easy for both of us because we've been winnng, the team has been playing really well in front of us and when the team is winning, I think as a goalie you don't think too much," Lundqvist said after the morning skate. "It's been an adjustment for me not to play as much, but so far it's been working for me and I think it's a good thing for the team in the long run to have two fresh guys. Going into the season, I knew I would play less."

Lundqvist was in net for both Leaf victories at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. He feels the presence of Biron, whose prior start in Toronto was a 2-1 victory early last season, drives both of them to be at the top of their game.

"Marty, he is playing so well, I need to push myself to get minutes and I think he feels the same way -- if he wants to start, he needs to play well," Lundqvist said. "So we push each other to work really hard and get better and it's a healthy competition."

Meanwhile, Rangers forward John Mitchell returns to Toronto for the first time as a visitor since being traded to New York almost a year ago. The soon to be 27-year-old spent his first three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs.

"It's fun and it's exciting, it's cool to be back in the city where it all began," said Mitchell, who grew up in nearby Waterloo, Ontario.

In the 23 games he has played for the Rangers, it has become evident why his club has been successful: "They have a good team identity here and I think everyone knows what their identity is, so it makes sense," Mitchell said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who was questionable to play Saturday, did not partake in the morning skate and will miss his second straight game recovering from a shoulder injury. That means Wojtek Wolski will remain in the lineup. The highly-skilled Wolski played nearly 15 minutes against Ottawa on Thursday, his first action since playing under five minutes versus Anaheim on Nov. 3. He has yet to score a goal this season in seven games.

While the Rangers study video to figure out their power play woes (1-for-20 over the last eight games), Toronto is coming off a 3-2 loss Friday in Buffalo. It was their first loss this month and the club had a sparsely-attended optional skate this morning. After playing last night, Jonas Gustavsson will start again tonight for the Maple Leafs.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 1:48 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Rangers, Maple Leafs

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre:

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Wojtek Wolski - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Martin Biron
Henrik Lundqvist

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarson - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:05 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs have reinforcements for battle with Wings

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have some new faces in the lineup Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings and will also have the services of their captain Dion Phaneuf, whose status was up in the air after being hit in the face with a puck Thursday against Winnipeg. 

“Nothing got broke, he didn’t lose any teeth, most hockey players I know would be back and Dion is no different.  We need Dion in the lineup, not just for leadership, he is easily our best defenseman.” said Toronto coach Ron Wilson after the morning skate. “When you are playing a team like Detroit, you want to make sure you have as many hands on deck as possible.”

Forward Mike Brown will return to the lineup for the first time since November 15th, while oft-injured Mike Komisarek is back on defense after missing 21 games with a broken arm.  He is expected to be partnered with Cody Franson.

“Unfortunately I have been in this position a few times where I have been hurt and had to battle back,” said Komisarek, who has played 127 games as Leaf in three seasons since signing as a free agent in the summer of 2009. “The good thing about this time was I had the opportunity to skate early on when I was recovering from the injury. Your first game back you always play really simple.”

While healthy bodies return for the Leafs, Detroit will remain without two key cogs in Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm because of groin injuries.  In their place are forwards, Gustav Nyquist, who recorded his first NHL point in the Wings’ last game Tuesday at Dallas and Chris Connor, who has three points in six games this season.  He last played on Dec. 13.

The Wings boast the second most home wins in the NHL but are below .500 on the road. 

“Why is that?” asked Detroit coach Mike Babcock rhetorically.  “If I had the answer we’d fix it. The bottom line is we think our game is getting better and continues to grow and so it has to continue to grow and tonight is a big part of that.”

Jimmy Howard, whose 24 wins leads the NHL, will aim for his 100th career victory tonight and relishes the opportunity to do so in front of a sell-out crowd in Toronto and with the large audience that comes with a nationally televised Saturday night game.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 1:41 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lineups for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. They meet tonight at Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS
 
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski -Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown
 
Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek
 
Jonas Gustavsson
 
RED WINGS
 
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valteri Filppula -Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist - Corey Emmerton, Chris Conner
 
Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jakub Kind - Jonathan Ericsson
 
Jimmy Howard

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 3:48 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stamkos back home as Lightning face Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos, the NHL's leading goal scorer, is back home for the first time this season as the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I talked about it since day one, it's nice to come back and play in front of friends and family. It's always a special time for me and a big time for our team right now with the position we're in," said Stamkos, who was named the League's first star for the past week.

Currently, the Lightning have won three games in a row and Stamkos is eager for the club to continue to its recent play.

"We obviously wanted to have a better start but I think we have cleaned up our game drastically over the past 10 games," Stamkos said. "We may have not gotten the results we wanted to in a couple of them, but the last three for sure we have really tightened up defensively and we need another big game tonight.”

While the Lightning have gone 6-3-1 in the past 10 and are on the rise in the Eastern Conference, the Maple Leafs have struggled, losing three games in a row, and are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games.

If the Leafs are going to right the ship, taking advantage of home ice will be key. Tonight marks the first of a season-high nine home games this month.

"It's up to us to determine home ice advantage and go out and play well," Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "It seems here in Toronto that you don't get very many teams that come in often and have an off night. Everybody gets fired up to play here in Toronto, so your advantage is taken a away a little bit, but we will try to push the pace and make it a home ice advantage."

Ron Wilson who will give Jonas Gustavsson his first start since December 17th versus Vancouver. 

"It's a tough team," Gustavsson said. "(They have) always been tight games against them and I'm sure it will be another one tonight."

Notes: Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman remains out of the lineup with a concussion and did not make the trip to Toronto.

Toronto made a minor deal this afternoon, dealing forward Luca Caputi to Anaheim for forward Nicolas Deschamps.  Forward Phillipe Dupuis was also assigned to the AHL Toronto Marlies after clearing waivers, while defenseman Korbinian Holzer was recalled.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lines for Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Here are the projected lines for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Air Canada Centre:

Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Matt Frattin

Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson
 
Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Skinner out for shorthanded Hurricanes

TORONTO -- The struggling Carolina Hurricanes will also be shorthanded Tuesday night when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Hurricanes are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and coach Kirk Muller, who is already without Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison will also be without the services of 2011 Calder Trophy winner, Jeff Skinner, who remained in North Carolina for a medical evaluation.
 
It is something of a homecoming for Kirk Muller, who hails from Kingston Ontario, half-way between Toronto and Montreal (where he won the Stanley Cup in 1993). The Maple Leafs and Canadiens are two of the six teams he played for in his 22-year NHL career.

“[I’m an] Ontario boy, so it’s always nice to come to Toronto,” Muller said. “It’s always a great atmosphere, a lot of friends and family but I’m excited because we had a couple of days to work on some stuff and our guys recovered and are ready for a big game tonight.”

Carolina is only 26th in the NHL on the power play at 13.1 percent for the season, but the Hurricanes have converted 3 of 9 chances in the past two games.

“[We’ve made] a couple of personnel moves [on the power play], it’s more of calming things down,” Muller said. “When you are not winning you force things, I try to tell the guys, there is a lot of skill here, believe in the plays, work them and do it consistently and over time you will get some production.”

A successful power play from an opposing team might not be good news for the Leafs. Seven of the past nine goals allowed by Toronto in the past three games have come with the opponent on the man advantage.

“We’ve practiced our PK,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “It’s been poor the last two games. The previous 10 or 15 it was pretty good, so we have a bit of an anomaly, none the less, we’ve spent the last two days putting probably an hour of our two hours of practice to penalty killing.”

Phil Kessel enters this game in a three-way tie in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy. He has 18 goals and is second in the League with 36 points.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 1:13 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Maple Leafs, Hurricanes

TORONTO -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes take the ice tonight in Toronto.

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Colby Armstrong
Matt Frattin - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joey Crabb- David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
 
James Reimer will start in goal, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.
 
Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill and Keith Aulie will be healthy scratches.

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Chad Larose
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Jamie McBain
Jaroslav Spacek - Justin Faulk
Bryan Allan - Derek Joslin

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Mike Murphy the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 4:24 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Grabovski back in for Leafs

TORONTO -- Congratulations are in order for Mikhail Grabovski, whose girlfriend gave birth to the couple's child earlier today. That means Grabovski will be available for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils.

With that in mind, here's how the new-look Leafs could line up tonight:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joe Colborne - David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
 
James Reimer will start in goal, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 1:49 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Maple Leafs, Devils

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs did not skate this morning, so it is not certain what their lineup will look like, but it's unlikely they'll change much from Monday's game against the New York Rangers.

One notable absence likely will be forward Mikhail Grabovski, whose girlfriend went into labor yesterday.

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Joe Colborne - Nikolai Kulemin
Jay Rosehill - David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
 
James Reimer will start in goal, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.

DEVILS
Ilya Kovalchuk - Zack Parise - Adam Henrique
Mattias Tedenby - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
Dainius Zubrus - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Nick Palmieri

Andy Greene - Anton Volchenkov
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson

Martin Brodeur will start in goal, with Johan Hedberg the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 2:59 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineup for Maple Leafs

Here is the projected lineup for the Toronto Maple Leafs for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche at Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Matt Frattin - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis - Mike Brown
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek
 
James Reimer is expected to start in goal with Jonas Gustavsson serving as the backup.
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Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com