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.
Clarkson knows the Maple Leafs will have to be at their best against Vancouver.
“They’re off to a good start to the season,” Clarkson said. “They’ve got a lot of great skill up front and their goaltending has been great. With the Canucks you expect a fast-paced game. They’ve got a lot of guys who can wheel. We’ve got to be ready to match it right from the drop of the puck. We’re a fast team ourselves.”
When Toronto coach Randy Carlyle looks at the Canucks, a team he coached against a great deal when he was with the Anaheim Ducks, he sees a team playing a style of hockey he’d like to see from his group.
The top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin with Radim Vrbata in particular plays a puck-possession style Carlyle would like to see from his top line of Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak.
“The Sedins are a puck puck-possession line and they lead their group,” Carlyle said. “They have a unique way of finding one another and it seems Vrbata is the third finger on the line. He has fit in there almost seamlessly. They are a grinding type of line that likes to work the puck down low. A lot of their plays come from the goal line or underneath the goal line to the front of the net. They feed their defensemen as well as anybody and they work off one another. To think that they are not tough players is wrong. They will take a check to make a play.”
The Canucks are in the midst of a seven-game road trip and are 3-1-0 heading into the game against Toronto. Vancouver is the NHL’s best road team at 11-4-0.
“I always like playing at home,” Desjardins said. “But I do think on the road there are a few less distractions for the players so maybe it’s easier for them.”
Desjardins said he expects the Maple Leafs to come out firing on all cylinders.
“The Maple Leafs are real quick,” Desjardins said. “They have four really good lines and they have lots of speed. They are hard to handle. When they had one that didn’t go their way [against New Jersey] they probably want to be a little better tonight, but even if they hadn’t lost to New Jersey they are still a very tough team.”
Here are the projected rosters:
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins – Nick Bonino – Alexandre Burrows
Shawn Matthias – Brad Richardson – Linden Vey
Derek Dorsett – Bo Horvat – Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Luca Sbisa – Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton – Yannick Weber
Injured: Dan Hamhuis (lower body), Zack Kassian (finger), Tom Sestito (lower body)
Scratched: Frank Corrado
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
Daniel Winnik – Trevor Smith – David Booth
Cody Franson – Dion Phaneuf
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Injured: Leo Komarov (upper body).
Status report: Bernier is expected to make his eighth consecutive start…Toronto left wing Leo Komarov has missed two games with a head injury. He did not take the morning skate and is not expected to play against the Canucks. Rookie right wing Brandon Kozun was recalled from the AHL Marlies after a rehab stint. He remains on LTI but could be an option if he is taken off LTI …Vancouver center Linden Vey has moved to right wing to replace injured Zack Kassian.
Who’s hot: Santorelli has points in five straight games with one goal and seven assists…Maple Leafs No. 1 center Tyler Bozak has five goals and seven points in five games…Vancouver center Brad Richardson has three goals and six points in four games…Canucks left wing Shawn Matthias has four goals and six points in five games.