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Bernier starts as Maple Leafs host Red Wings

by Mike Brophy / NHL.com

RED WINGS (17-6-7) at MAPLE LEAFS (16-9-3)

TV: NHLN-US, CBC, TVA, FS-D

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs won against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday, but were not happy with their effort.

The Maple Leafs relied heavily on their goalie, James Reimer, in a 2-1 victory in which they were outshot 42-19. Toronto hopes its goaltender is not as busy when they host the Red Wings Saturday.

“We have to give up fewer shots,” said left wing David Booth. “It’s that simple. Detroit is a very, very good team with a lot of skill. The Red Wings are going to generate chances; I just don’t know if we can give them as many as we did Wednesday night.”

The Maple Leafs did not play Friday, while the Red Wings lost 3-2 in a shootout at home to the Florida Panthers. Toronto hopes it can take advantage of a tired Detroit squad.

“I know just from personal experience it’s a little bit tougher on a back-to-back, especially when you travel,” Booth said. “It does take a lot out of your body. That’s where your mental preparation comes in. You know you have physically trained so hard all year, but there are a lot of external factors that come in, and that’s where the mental preparation comes in.”

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said it would be a mistake to think just because the Red Wings played the night before that they will be an easy mark. In fact, his Maple Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames Tuesday and traveled to Detroit for a game the following day.

“I think at times you want to use that as a motivation, but you can’t use it as a crutch and think it’s going to be easy,” Carlyle said. “It’s not going to be easy. I think if you check the record in the league on the second hand of back-to-backs, you’d be surprised at how often teams win that second game.”

Reimer was expected to get the start against the Red Wings, but tweaked his groin Friday in practice. He said he is fine, but Jonathan Bernier is now likely to get the start Saturday.

“It was something that was really minor,” Reimer said. “I came across in practice and felt something that wasn’t quite right. I just kind of felt it out for the rest of the practice and when I came off the ice I got the trainers to work on it. Today it feels fine. My range of motion is about as good as it can be.”

Reimer said the Maple Leafs cannot afford to take Detroit lightly.

“I think we have to perfect our structure,” Reimer said. “Obviously we are playing a team that is very structured and plays really tight to their game plan. If you are not on your game then they can play a game where they are all over the place and they can dominate you. As clichéd as it sounds we’ve got to really stick to what we need to do and we can’t take any shifts off.”

Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard played Friday against Florida and will serve as backup against the Maple Leafs. Petr Mrazek will make his fourth start of the season. Howard skated this morning and said his team must be prepared right from the drop of the puck against Toronto.

“I think you have to keep the shifts short,” Howard said. “Obviously the first 10-15 minutes of the game are when your legs are going to feel the heaviest so you have to make sure you are mentally sharp and doing things right out there.”

Here are the projected lineups:

RED WINGS

Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Tomas Jurco

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Johan Franzen - Riley SheahanDaniel Cleary

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith

Xavier OuelletBrian Lashoff

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Scratched: Jakub Kindl

Injured: Justin Abdelkader (shoulder), Danny DeKeyser (upper body), Stephen Weiss (shoulder)

MAPLE LEAFS

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik - Nazem Kadri - Mike Santorelli

Joffrey Lupul - Peter Holland - David Clarkson

David BoothRichard PanikBrandon Kozun

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Jake Gardiner - Korbinian Holzer

Morgan Rielly - Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Trevor Smith, Stuart Percy

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

Status report: There is a chance the Maple Leafs will replace rookie right wing Brandon Kozun with center Trevor Smith, who was a scratch Wednesday…Left wing Carter Ashton continues to skate with the Maple Leafs. Ashton is due to come off suspension Dec. 19 and will be eligible to play in Toronto’s Dec. 20 game against the Philadelphia Flyers...Detroit right wing Stephen Weiss hurt his shoulder Friday and is out. Cleary will take his place in the lineup.

Who’s hot: Toronto right wing Phil Kessel has goals in four of his past five games…Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk has a goal and three points in his past three games. Red Wings left wing Gustav Nyqvist has goals in back-to-back games.

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