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At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Red Wings

by Paul Harris / NHL.com

DETROIT -- Two hot teams will face off Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena when the Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN).

Detroit, 17-6-5 and first in the Atlantic Division, is 7-1-0 in its past eight games. Toronto (15-9-3) is 6-1-1 in its past eight.

"They're good. If you look at the analytics part they're no good, but when you look at coaching and winning games, they're good," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said about the Maple Leafs. "I like them, so I play them. They're trustworthy, they play hard, they drag our other guys into battle, they know how to play."

The Maple Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1 Tuesday in Toronto and didn't skate Wednesday. Coach Randy Carlyle was scheduled to talk to the media after the Maple Leafs arrived at the arena for the game.

James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist Tuesday for Toronto, and Peter Holland, Phil Kessel and Mike Santorelli scored. Nazem Kadri and Dion Phaneuf had two assists each, and Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves.

Carlyle said Tuesday he liked the way the Maple Leafs played in the second period.

"The second period was one of the best periods we have played this season from a perspective of playing more of the style of hockey that is required for 60 minutes," Carlyle said. "Those are the things you try to capture and then give your team an opportunity [to] watch so they know this is the way we're going to have to do it on a more regular basis."

The Maple Leafs and Red Wings are two of the NHL's highest scoring teams. Toronto entered play Wednesday second in the NHL with 93 non-shootout goals, and Detroit is tied with the Calgary Flames with 87.

Babcock said he feels this is the best team Detroit has had since 2009, when the Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I think it's not just younger, it's the veterans as well," Babcock said. "They've been here through the good times and the slower times and now they see our team on the climb again. This is the best team we've had here since '09. Not necessarily point-wise, but direction-wise. We have more players that are hungry and going in the right direction than we have in a long time."

He said players battling for ice time is a big part of that.

"That's what good teams have. They have internal competition," Babcock said. "When you have people coming back you say to yourself, 'I better play well.' That's way better than any coach talking to you. The best guys get to play. That's pro sports."

Here are the projected lineups:

MAPLE LEAFS

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik - Nazem Kadri - Mike Santorelli

Joffrey Lupul - Peter Holland - David Clarkson

David Booth - Trevor Smith - Richard Panik

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Jake Gardiner - Korbinian Holzer

Morgan Rielly - Stephane Robidas

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Brandon Kozun, Stuart Percy

Injured: Roman Polak (lower body), Leo Komarov (upper body)

RED WINGS

Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Tomas Jurco

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Johan Franzen - Riley Sheahan - Stephen Weiss

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Brian Lashoff

Injured: Justin Abdelkader (shoulder)

Status report: Abdelkader skated in practice Tuesday and Wednesday but remains sidelined. ... The Maple Leafs on Wednesday recalled Percy from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Who's hot: Santorelli has two goals and 10 points in his past eight games. … Datsyuk has three goals and four assists in his past four games, and seven goals and four assists in his past seven games. He was named NHL First Star for last week.

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