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.
Phaneuf said only three players remain with the Flames from his days in Calgary: defenseman Mark Giordano and forwards Curtis Glencross and Brian McGrattan.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle is not surprised to hear Phaneuf gets up for a game against the team that traded him.
"I think it's always part of the equation," Carlyle said. "I don't think that your competitive juices ever really leave you. If you're not motivated to play against the people that you worked for at one point, there's something wrong with you. It's as simple as that. It's not normal in sports if you don't feel that you owe them something."
That being the case, Toronto might want to pay special attention to former Maple Leafs forwards Mason Raymond and Matt Stajan. Stajan was traded to Calgary as part of the Phaneuf deal and Raymond signed with the Flames last summer after playing the 2013-14 season in Toronto.
Raymond is returning to action after missing 18 games with a shoulder injury while Stajan is playing his second game after missing 16 with a knee injury. Raymond has five goals and seven points in 10 games while Stajan has a goal and three points in 12 games.
Stajan said Carlyle is absolutely right about wanting to stick it to a former team. Not only did the Flames center play parts of seven seasons with the Maple Leafs, he is also a Toronto native.
"For sure," Stajan said. "Through your whole life, whenever you have a setback or a team gives up on you, when you play against them you want to show them they made a mistake. It's the competitiveness in all of us. To be playing at this level you have to have that competitiveness, so you want to give it back to your former team."
The Maple Leafs are also quite aware that the upstart Flames, one of the NHL's surprise teams thus far, get a lot of production from their defensemen. Giordano leads all NHL defensemen with 28 points, TJ Brodie ranks fifth in the League with 21 points and Dennis Wideman is 13th with 17. The trio has combined to score 23 goals.
"When you look at the Calgary Flames, energy is one thing that is front and center," Carlyle said. "Also, their D-men seem to have the green light to join the rush. They do a lot of surfing at the offensive blue line. They are a very mobile and offensively talented group."
Here are the projected lineups:
Curtis Glencross – Sean Monahan – David Jones
Johnny Gaudreau – Josh Jooris – Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond – Markus Granlund – Paul Byron
Brandon Bollig – Matt Stajan – Lance Bouma
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Ladislav Smid – Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Brian McGrattan, Michael Ferland
Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (wrist)
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Richard Panik
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Roman Polak, Leo Komarov
Status report: The Maple Leafs juggled their wings in an effort to check the Sedin twins Saturday, but Lupul is expected to be back on a line with Kadri and Santorelli while Winnik rejoins Holland and Clarkson. … Colborne, another former Maple Leaf who has missed 16 games with a wrist injury, skated in the morning, but will not play against Toronto. The Flames assigned forward Sven Baertschi to the American Hockey League.
Who's hot: Gaudreau has points (two goals, two assists) in four straight games. Hudler has five goals and 11 points in seven games. … Santorelli has a goal and nine points in the past seven games. Bernier is making his ninth consecutive start.