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Posted On Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:25 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Coyotes at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – There are no easy games in the NHL.

That is the message Toronto Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek is sending his players as they prepare to play the Arizona Coyotes at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

"We cannot look at any games and think they are any easier than any other night," Horachek said. "The Coyotes have high-end players on the back end with [Oliver] Ekman-Larsson and [Keith] Yandle, and they have [Shane] Doan and [Antoine] Vermette in their lineup. They are well-coached and a very disciplined team that capitalizes on your mistakes and turnovers. You have to focus on how we want to play and not veer off."

The Maple Leafs (22-23-4) have lost seven in a row and are 3-14-1 in their past 18 games but the news isn't all bad. Toronto picked up a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

Toronto will be playing on back-to-back nights for the 12th time this season when it plays Arizona (16-25-6). The Maple Leafs are 5-5-1 in the second half of games played on back-to-back nights.

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Posted On Monday, 01.19.2015 / 12:48 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to rediscover their offense Monday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs (22-21-3) are returning from a four-game road trip during which they lost all four and managed to score one goal. Toronto was shut out 3-0 by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"Our mindset is that we want to first and foremost have a good start at home," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Coming off a road trip we want to work on our start and dictate the pace of the game, playing a fast brand of hockey. We want to get back to the way we are capable of playing and build on some of the things that we were happy about, which is being a lot better in the defensive zone and not giving up as many chances."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 12:49 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Peter Horachek era begins when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

Horachek was officially named interim coach of the Maple Leafs Wednesday morning replacing Randy Carlyle, who was relieved of his coaching duties Tuesday.

Horachek has warned not to expect immediate changes in the way the Maple Leafs play. Toronto has lost two straight and is 3-7-0 in its past 10 games.

"I think when you have just one day there are only small tweaks you can do," Horachek said. "As we go forward there may be things we talk about in terms of changes, but right now it is important the team regain its resolve and attitude about coming forth and being prepared to play as a group with some focus and energy. If you go in the first day and make it all about change there will be a little bit of a confusion and an unfocused attitude."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.04.2015 / 4:34 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

IIHF's Fasel aims to improve Montreal WJC attendance

TORONTO – IIHF president Rene Fasel said the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will likely be the third-best ever in terms of overall attendance.

"The numbers are not too bad, but the expectations were very high in Montreal," Fasel said.

Total attendance at the WJC in Ottawa in 2009 was 453,000, and the combined attendance in 2012 when the tournament was co-hosted by Edmonton and Calgary was 444,000. Fasel said he expects attendance from the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto to be between 365,000 and 385,000.

"It's not too bad," Fasel said. "Yesterday a game between Germany and Switzerland had 8,000 people. If you do that game in Finland you might draw 400 people. It is really a nice problem to discuss."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 12:35 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – When the Toronto Maple Leafs look at the Philadelphia Flyers, they do not see a struggling team.

The Maple Leafs play host to the Flyers on Saturday with both teams looking to get back on the winning track.

"I was looking at their lineup and to me there's no holes in that lineup," veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "It is a really deep team with good forwards and good defensemen. They have solid goaltending. It is a very dangerous team and you can't take them lightly. It is going to be a tough game for us tonight."

After winning six games in a row, the Maple Leafs lost 4-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Maple Leafs. They have won five straight at home. The Maple Leafs are the NHL's highest scoring team averaging 3.38 goals per game and rank sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-10-3 record.

The Flyers, 3-4-3 in their past 10 games, lost 2-1 in a shootout against the Florida Panthers on Thursday and 3-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Philadelphia is 14th in the Eastern standings at 11-14-6.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.16.2014 / 12:23 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – It will be a battle of two the NHL's hottest teams when the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks play at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

The Maple Leafs have won five straight games and are 8-1-1 in their past 10. The Ducks have won seven straight and are 8-2-0 in their past 10.

Making the game more interesting is how four Maple Leafs, Joffrey LupulPeter HollandDaniel Winnik and Stephane Robidas, all played for the Ducks. Also, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle coached the Ducks for seven seasons and guided them to the Stanley Cup in 2006-07.

Holland, Anaheim's first pick (No. 15) in 2009, has started to blossom as a dependable two-way center since he was traded to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 16, 2013. He said playing his former team has special meaning.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.14.2014 / 11:22 AM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to make it five straight wins Sunday when they play the Los Angeles Kings at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs, who earned back-to-back victories against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday and Saturday, are 8-1-1 since losing 9-2 at home against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 18.

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said that was a turning point in the season for the Maple Leafs.

"There was an event that took place, I think it was the 9-2 beating we took at home, that changed our group since then," Carlyle said. "I think if you look at our record and goals-against since then and the things we have been able to accomplish since that point; that was the low point in the season for us. We didn't feel very good about ourselves. We were embarrassed. We lost 6-2 the game before and then we got kicked at home 9-2. We got booed at home deservedly so. [The players] made a conscious effort that they were going to change things from that point on."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs won against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday, but were not happy with their effort.

The Maple Leafs relied heavily on their goalie, James Reimer, in a 2-1 victory in which they were outshot 42-19. Toronto hopes its goaltender is not as busy when they host the Red Wings Saturday.

“We have to give up fewer shots,” said left wing David Booth. “It’s that simple. Detroit is a very, very good team with a lot of skill. The Red Wings are going to generate chances; I just don’t know if we can give them as many as we did Wednesday night.”

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 9:30 AM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

McDavid 'very hopeful' he'll play in WJC exhibition

TORONTO -- Connor McDavid was wearing gold. Can he help Canada win gold?

McDavid, the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft and the injured prospect for Canada's National Junior Team for the 2015 World Junior Championship, wore a don't-hit-me gold jersey at the team's first gathering at MasterCard Centre on Thursday.

Don't be fooled by the jersey, McDavid said. He's ready to play.

"It's fine," McDavid said of his injured hand. "I felt good. Obviously I had a couple of hiccups with the puck, but I was shooting it fine."

McDavid has been skating for the past three weeks after breaking his hand in a fight in November and expects to be in the lineup when Canada plays its first game at the 2015 World Junior Championship Dec. 26 in Montreal.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- It has been nearly five years since defenseman Dion Phaneuf was acquired from the Calgary Flames, but the Toronto Maple Leafs captain still gets up for games against his old team.

"I think for me it's always special to remember the times there," Phaneuf said of Calgary. "It's where I started my career and it means something to me any time you play a former team."

The Maple Leafs, who are 3-1-0 on their five-game homestand, will host the Flames on Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.

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Quote of the Day

You get the right the whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals