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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.

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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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Posted On Sunday, 12.14.2014 / 11:22 AM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 12:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Canucks at Maple Leafs

TORONTO –Toronto Maple Leafs veteran right wing David Clarkson said his team has to put Thursday behind them, referencing a 5-3 defeat against his old team, the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils were missing seven regulars, but out-played the Maple Leafs and scored a convincing win.

Now the Maple Leafs will host the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night in the fourth game of a five-game home stand at Air Canada Centre.

“Last game wasn’t great, but out of the last 10 or 11 games we have done well,” Clarkson said. “You are going to have nights that don’t go your way and you wish things went differently, but you have to get ready for what’s ahead of you.”

The Canucks, who are fourth in the NHL standings at 18-7-1, have won two in a row and are 7-2-1 in their past 10. The team has settled in nicely with first-year coach Willie Desjardins.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 12:42 PM

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

At the Rink: Stars at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The question used to be Tyler or Taylor? Now it is Tyler or Phil?

Prior to the 2010 NHL Draft the big question was who deserved to go first, Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires or Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers. Hall was chosen first by the Edmonton Oilers and Seguin went second to the Boston Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Things have changed a bit since.

Hall has proven himself worthy of being the No. 1 pick with the Oilers, though his team has not enjoyed much success. Seguin lasted three seasons with the Bruins and was traded to the Dallas Stars in 2013, where he has emerged as a serious threat to capture the Art Ross Trophy as the League's leading scorer.

Nobody talks about Tyler or Taylor now; not since the Toronto Maple Leafs traded two first-round picks to the Bruins -- one of which was used on Seguin -- and a second-round pick for forward Phil Kessel.

That's when it became Tyler or Phil. At least in Toronto, and it comes up every time the two play against one another.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.29.2014 / 12:10 PM

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

At the Rink: Capitals at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The waiting game is over for David Booth.

The left wing, who signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, will finally make his home debut with his new team after playing his first game of the season Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.

Booth, 30, missed the first 21 games with a broken foot. In his first game he played 9:33 and had one shot on goal in a 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

Booth is no stranger to being on injured reserve. He played just 66 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and only 12 the year before. In 2011-12 he was limited to just six games because of a concussion.

"It's more frustrating just not playing, and whether it's a new team or an old team, it doesn't make that much of a difference," Booth said. "When you come back you want to get out there and prove yourself. When you are on a new team and you break your foot, it is a struggle and it can get you down. I've had to deal with this before, and every time it happens you learn a little bit more. You learn the most through difficult times."

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Posted On Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:44 PM

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

At the Rink: Lightning at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping to kick things off on the right foot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Scoring the first goal of the game would be a nice way to start, if only to appease the home fans who have been restless of late.

"It would be nice," Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said. "A lot of times when you generate that first goal your chances of winning go up. That said, there have been a lot of cases when we have come from behind, so if we don't get the first goal it's not the end of the world."

It won't be an easy task. The Lightning are the highest scoring team in the NHL with 72 goals, 10 more than the next team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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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