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At the Rink: Flyers at Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy

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.

Robidas said it doesn't matter where the Flyers are in the standings, they always seem to provide tough opposition.

"You know they are going to play physical," Robidas said. "That is their identity. They have a lot of skill, too."

Maple Leafs center Peter Holland agreed there are no easy nights against the Flyers.

"It always seems to be a man's game out there when you play the Flyers," Holland said. "Even though they may have lost a couple they're going to come in here and play hard. They have a lot of toughness and depth."

If the Flyers are going to return to their winning ways, it will be without No. 1 goalie Steve Mason. He was helped off the ice Friday after sustaining an upper-body injury in practice. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Mason will not play this weekend and will be re-evaluated Monday.

The Flyers, who kick off an eight-game road trip against the Maple Leafs, recalled goalie Rob Zepp from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League. Ray Emery will start in goal against Toronto. Zepp, 33, has plenty of minor league experience and spent several seasons playing professionally in Europe, but has never appeared in a game in the NHL.

Flyers' leading scorer Jakub Voracek said his team cannot dwell on the loss of Mason.

"Every team goes through these times during the season sooner or later," Voracek said. "Our team is good. We showed it when we played out west when we played good hockey. We just have to keep things simple and we'll be fine."

Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn said it is hard to ignore the loss of Mason, but echoed Voracek in stating the Flyers have to try to find a way to win without him.

"Obviously Mason is the backbone of our team," Schenn said. "He has played some real good goal for us and he is consistent. We'd like to see him back in there sooner rather than later, but in saying that we are confident in Ray. I don't think we have to change our game plan. We're confident in all our goalies."


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Scott Laughton - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Braydon Coburn

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Rob Zepp

Scratched: Chris VandeVelde, Michael Del Zotto, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (chest)

Injured: Steve Mason (back)


Joffrey LupulTyler BozakPhil Kessel

James van RiemsdykNazem KadriMike Santorelli

Daniel WinnikPeter HollandDavid Clarkson

David BoothTrevor SmithRichard Panik

Dion PhaneufCody Franson

Morgan RiellyStephane Robidas

Roman PolakJake Gardiner

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Leo Komarov (concussion)

Status report: Komarov has missed nine games with a concussion and is not expected to play Saturday. He skated with the team for the first time since being hurt Friday … The Maple Leafs adjusted their lines Thursday against the Hurricanes putting Lupul with Bozak and Kessel and van Riemsdyk on a line with Kadri and Santorelli.

Who's hot: Kessel (four goals, three assists) and van Riemsdyk (three goals, four assists) each have seven points in their past six games … Bernier is 4-1-0 in his past five games with a .951 save percentage … Simmonds has four goals in his past six games … Giroux has a goal and seven assists in his past seven games.

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