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Posted On Tuesday, 11.18.2014 / 12:40 PM

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

At the Rink: Predators at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Eighteen games into the season, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle believes his team has not yet forged an identity.

"I just think we're too erratic and too inconsistent," Carlyle said. "In the games before the games we played this past weekend we had kind of adopted a style that was working and then we seemed to lose it. I go back to the work ethic. I don't think we out-competed people and that, to me, is the most alarming thing. We have to out-work some people to have success."

The Maple Leafs, who host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, earned a 6-1 victory against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 12, but lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Saturday and were defeated 6-2 by the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Already there have been peaks and valleys in the Maple Leafs season, but veteran defenseman Cody Franson said that is not surprising.

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Posted On Monday, 11.17.2014 / 8:32 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame blog

Former Red Wings goalie Osgood hopes to be inducted

TORONTO -- When it comes to debating who might be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the future, Chris Osgood's name usually comes up.

And the argument could be made Osgood had the numbers in his 17-year NHL career to be considered for induction.

The former goalie had his best years with the Detroit Red Wings; Osgood won two Stanley Cups, became the 10th goalie to win 400 games, is 10th all-time with 401 victories, has the seventh best goals-against average of all-time (2.49), led the NHL in GAA in the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2007-08 and led the NHL in wins in 1995-96 (39).

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Posted On Monday, 11.17.2014 / 8:26 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame blog

LaFontaine happy to see ex-teammate Hasek inducted

TORONTO -- There's nothing like going up against a future Hall of Fame goaltender every day to sharpen the skills of a goal-scorer.

Pat LaFontaine knows all about that.

LaFontaine, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, was a teammate of Dominik Hasek with the Buffalo Sabres. Hasek was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday.

"I've never seen a goalie make the saves that he made," LaFontaine said. "The ways that he would turn his body into a pretzel and somehow twist and drop his stick to makes the saves; I don't know if we'll ever see them again. He is simply one of the greatest goalies to ever play."

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Posted On Friday, 11.14.2014 / 12:56 PM

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

At the Rink: Penguins at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Peter Holland will take the ice time any way he can get it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs center approached coach Randy Carlyle recently and asked if he could start killing penalties.

Carlyle saw this as an opportunity to give more meaningful minutes to a player who was chosen in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft (No. 15). With a three-game goal streak he'll carry into the game Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Holland is starting to find his game at the NHL level.

Not many players have the gumption to ask the coach for added duty, but Holland felt it was a risk worth taking.

"Yeah, I mean you never really want to say to your coach that you want more ice time, but it was one of those things where I noticed we have so many skilled guys on the power play and I probably wasn't going to get a shot at that, so I felt killing penalties was an opportunity for me to get an extra minute or two in the game and help me stay mentally into the game too," Holland said. "If you are playing a bottom-six role you don't get as much ice, and this is a way to get a couple more touches of the puck and keep my confidence up."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.12.2014 / 12:33 PM

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

At the Rink: Bruins at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs feel like they are a much different team today than the one that hosted the Boston Bruins on Oct. 25.

The last time they played, the Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1 in Toronto. It was after that game the Maple Leafs held a players-only meeting and have since gone 4-1-1.

"They just decided enough was enough," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. "They knew we just couldn't go on playing the way we were."

At the time of the loss to Boston, the Maple Leafs had slipped to 3-4-1 and were 1-4-0 at home. It was early in the season, but playoff positions are lost that time of year.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.08.2014 / 1:04 PM

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

At the Rink: Rangers at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Morgan Rielly didn't like it but he accepted it.

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle made the defenseman a healthy scratch for the first time this season Thursday when the Maple Leafs played the Colorado Avalanche. Rielly, the Maple Leafs first-round pick (No. 5) in the 2012 NHL Draft, is expected to be back in the lineup when Toronto hosts the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"That's what happens sometimes," Rielly said. "Obviously you don't want to be a healthy scratch; you always want to play and help your team. But it happens and you have to deal with it and try to bounce back from it."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.01.2014 / 1:15 PM

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

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Kris Versteeg feels reborn.

This summer, for the first time in a few years, the 28-year-old Chicago Blackhawks left wing was healthy and able to train in preparation for the 2014-15 season. Previously he had been dealing with injuries and was not in game shape when the season started.

So even though he missed the first four games of this season with a lower-body injury, Versteeg said he feels like he's playing some of the best hockey of his career.

"It had been about three years since I had been able to train properly in the offseason and it has had a huge impact on my game," Versteeg said. "This summer meant a lot to me in terms of getting back to where I needed to be. I feel just as healthy as ever."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 12:37 PM

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

At the Rink: Sabres at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Randy Carlyle has shuffled the deck.

Unhappy with what he has seen from his team of late, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach has reunited left wing Joffrey Lupul with right wing Phil Kessel and they will skate with Nazem Kadri in the middle Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Kessel and Lupul played together under former Toronto coach Ron Wilson.

Tyler Bozak, who has been the Maple Leafs' No. 1 center the past few seasons, will have James van Riemsdyk and David Clarkson on his wings on the second line.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.25.2014 / 12:56 PM

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

At the Rink: Bruins at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins are down a man -- a big man -- but that will not alter the way they play when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman and captain, is out indefinitely with an injured knee, and along with the departures of Jarome IginlaShawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk, should in theory make them an easier team to play against.

Not so, said Bruins coach Claude Julien.

"Hitting is one thing, and it depends how hard you want to hit," Julien said. "You've just got to be physical. Sometimes being physical can be about eliminating a player from the puck and that's what we have to adapt to. We can continue to be a physical team or hard team to play against by eliminating or separating players from the puck."

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Posted On Friday, 10.17.2014 / 1:00 PM

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

At the Rink: Red Wings at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Two games as a healthy scratch is two games too many for Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner.

Gardiner did not play to a standard that pleased himself or coach Randy Carlyle and was a healthy scratch the previous two games. Gardiner said he was not surprised at the turn of events and did a little soul-searching during his time off.

Friday against the Detroit Red Wings, Gardiner will be back in the lineup, playing alongside his usual partner, Morgan Rielly.

With Gardiner in, veteran Stephane Robidas will be a healthy scratch.

"I don't think anyone is ever happy when they sit out," Gardiner said. "It's not ideal, but when the team is playing well that's just how it goes sometimes. I'm just excited to get back in the lineup."

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic