WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The road has been a safe port for the Toronto Maple Leafs early in the season.
The Maple Leafs (5-5-0) have used a 4-1-0 start on the road to offset a 1-4-0 at Air Canada Centre. They continue a three-game trip at MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets. Toronto is fresh off a 3-2 road win against the Washington Capitals and will finish its journey with a stop at Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday evening.
"Obviously, you've got to focus on the start," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said of facing a Jets club that has established a solid presence on Winnipeg ice. "Usually when you have success on the road, your first period is an indicator of where your game is at. You always want to establish a good start.
"We're just asking for the contribution to be more than ordinary from everybody. Ordinary is not good enough for us. We have to be better than ordinary."
However, the Toronto lineup remains rather battered. Mike Brown, Carl Gunnarsson and Joffrey Lupul are injured, though Carlyle said Brown’s return could be close. Gunnarsson remained in Toronto, where he is rehabilitating a hip injury.
"We'll have to make some decisions on people, obviously," Carlyle said of the eventual return of Brown and Gunnarsson.
The Maple Leafs possess a number of local connections in the Winnipeg area. Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren are Winnipeg natives. Carlyle was a defensive stalwart for years with the original Winnipeg Jets and later coached the city's former American Hockey League club. But Carlyle's focus is on the present, not the past.
"I'm not really a game-watcher or a calendar-circler," Carlyle said. "There has been so much going on, and it's such an abbreviated schedule."
Another Manitoba product, goaltender James Reimer, will make his eighth appearance of the season in net for Toronto. Reimer posted a 35-save effort earlier this week in a home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Here are the possible line combinations for the Maple Leafs:
Dion Phaneuf – Mike Kostka