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Posted On Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 12:50 PM

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

At the Rink: Jets at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – Joffrey Lupul is looking forward to getting back on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs when they play the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Lupul missed 11 games, played in six and then sat out the past four with an undisclosed injury. All told, Lupul has missed 26 games because of injury this season and is glad to be back.

"I'll be playing unless I slip on some ice or something," Lupul joked after the optional morning skate. "It feels a lot better. It is something we tried to push through, but obviously once the season started to go the way it did, it was an injury that needed some rest. It feels a lot better now."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.17.2015 / 12:38 PM

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

At the Rink: Panthers at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Even if his stay in Toronto is not a long one, Olli Jokinen hopes it will be productive.

Jokinen, 36, will make his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

Jokinen was acquired from the Nashville Predators on Sunday in a multi-player trade that sent defensemanCody Franson and right wing Mike Santorelli the other way. The Maple Leafs indicated they will try to flip Jokinen to a Stanley Cup Playoff contender before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 at 3 p.m.

Jokinen said he is motivated by the fact he may be traded again and that he plans to play in the NHL beyond this season.

"As a player you try to do your best every night," Jokinen said. "I'm in a position where I have to show everyone that I still have 'game' left. I am in good shape. I am in good shape and I believe I can still play at this level. I just have to get out there and prove that."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.10.2015 / 12:49 PM

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

At the Rink: Rangers at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to shut down one of the NHL's premier goal-scorers when they host the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

Rick Nash of the Rangers is tied with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the League lead in goals with 33.

"He's such a big man and can protect the puck so well," said Toronto interim coach Peter Horachek, who saw plenty of Nash during his 10-year stint as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators when the Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets, Nash's former team, were in the Central Division. "He's got such a long wing span and he can score from behind the net and in front of the net. He has the ability to skate and shoot. He is a dangerous guy to handle because of his size, his strength and his skill."

The Maple Leafs (23-27-4) ended an 11-game losing streak (0-10-1) with a win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. The Rangers (30-16-5) are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss against the Dallas Stars on Sunday and have dropped two in a row (0-1-1).

With Henrik Lundqvist, New York's No. 1 goalie, out with a neck injury, the spotlight is on Nash to carry the load on offense.

Posted On Saturday, 02.07.2015 / 4:42 PM

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

At the Rink: Oilers at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Do not expect Toronto Maple Leafs players to be willing participants in trying to land top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Connor McDavid.

The Maple Leafs lost their record 11th straight game Friday, 4-1 against the New Jersey Devils, and enter their game Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers 25th in the League standings.

With each passing defeat the Maple Leafs are in a better position to land the first pick in the draft; McDavid, a gifted center who plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, is considered the favorite to be the first pick and is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.

"You never lose on purpose for those reasons," Maple Leafs forward David Booth. "We're sick of losing. It's no fun losing. We're professionals and we're going to come to the rink and work hard. We're going to try to win these games."

Making that goal harder will be the absence of starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who will not play because of an illness, according to the Maple Leafs.

Posted On Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:25 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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.

Posted On Monday, 01.19.2015 / 12:48 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 12:49 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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."

Posted On Sunday, 01.04.2015 / 4:34 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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."

Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 12:35 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.16.2014 / 12:23 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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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