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 Lupul, Peter Holland, Daniel 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.
"I think there's a little added significance for sure," Holland said. "Any time you come over from a different team you want to have a good showing."
Holland played 29 games with Anaheim in parts of three seasons, and has seven goals and 12 points in 30 games with the Maple Leafs this season.
"I'm not out to necessarily prove anything to the Ducks," Holland said. "I just want to continue developing myself as a player. They did a great job with me in their minor league system and in trying to incorporate me into their lineup, but things just weren't fitting there. They decided to move me and I have no hard feelings."
Carlyle said the 23-year-old Holland remains a work in progress, but has worked hard at becoming a more complete performer.
"I have a history with Peter because we were in Anaheim together," Carlyle said. "Peter was a guy who was always able to score at whatever level he played at and he was not going to be afforded that opportunity right away here," Carlyle said. "So we had to find other ways for him to make a complement to the lineup. We've moved him from the fourth line up to the third line and sometimes the second line. We have him playing with Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson now, and we think that line should be able to provide us with offense."
Anaheim's leading scorer, center Ryan Getzlaf, recalled Holland as a bona fide NHL player who needed more experience to become more effective.
"He was a young player coming up with us who was taking strides as he went along," said Getzlaf, who has 10 goals and 33 points in 31 games. "He definitely had the skill level to play in the NHL and obviously he has developed the rest of his game."
Holland and Getzlaf agree a game between the Maple Leafs and Ducks will be a good test.
"These are the fun games to play when you can benchmark yourself a little bit," Holland said.
"It should be a great game," Getzlaf said. "These are the games you want to play. They're definitely a lot of fun and exciting."
Here are the projected lineups:
Rene Bourque – Ryan Getzlaf – Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Kesler – Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano – Rickard Rakell – Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon – Nate Thompson – Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Sami Vatanen – Clayton Stoner
Mark Fistric – Hampus Lindholm
Scratched: Colby Robak, Chris Wagner
Injured: Francois Beauchemin (finger), Eric Brewer (foot), John Gibson (groin), Corey Perry (knee)
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Richard Panik
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
Korbinian Holzer – Jake Gardiner
Injured: Leo Komarov (concussion)
Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Status report: The Ducks could replace defenseman Robak with Fistric … Polak remains on IR, but could play Thursday for the Maple Leafs against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Who's hot: Van Riemsdyk has points has points in four consecutive games (three goals, two assists) …Kessel has points in four straight games (two goals, two assists). He also has seven points in his past three games against Anaheim … Thompson has scored goals in back-to-back games for the Ducks... Lindholm has points in eight of his past 10 games.