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Biron starts, Dubinsky remains out for Rangers

by Neil Acharya
TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs have had the Rangers number this season, and so tonight the Blueshirts will switch things up slightly. After suffering a pair of 4-2 losses to Toronto, coach John Tortorella has elected to start Martin Biron -- who has yet to face the Leafs this season, but sports an impressive 8-2-0 record as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. 

"It's been easy for both of us because we've been winnng, the team has been playing really well in front of us and when the team is winning, I think as a goalie you don't think too much," Lundqvist said after the morning skate. "It's been an adjustment for me not to play as much, but so far it's been working for me and I think it's a good thing for the team in the long run to have two fresh guys. Going into the season, I knew I would play less."

Lundqvist was in net for both Leaf victories at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. He feels the presence of Biron, whose prior start in Toronto was a 2-1 victory early last season, drives both of them to be at the top of their game.

"Marty, he is playing so well, I need to push myself to get minutes and I think he feels the same way -- if he wants to start, he needs to play well," Lundqvist said. "So we push each other to work really hard and get better and it's a healthy competition."

Meanwhile, Rangers forward John Mitchell returns to Toronto for the first time as a visitor since being traded to New York almost a year ago. The soon to be 27-year-old spent his first three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs.

"It's fun and it's exciting, it's cool to be back in the city where it all began," said Mitchell, who grew up in nearby Waterloo, Ontario.

In the 23 games he has played for the Rangers, it has become evident why his club has been successful: "They have a good team identity here and I think everyone knows what their identity is, so it makes sense," Mitchell said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who was questionable to play Saturday, did not partake in the morning skate and will miss his second straight game recovering from a shoulder injury. That means Wojtek Wolski will remain in the lineup. The highly-skilled Wolski played nearly 15 minutes against Ottawa on Thursday, his first action since playing under five minutes versus Anaheim on Nov. 3. He has yet to score a goal this season in seven games.

While the Rangers study video to figure out their power play woes (1-for-20 over the last eight games), Toronto is coming off a 3-2 loss Friday in Buffalo. It was their first loss this month and the club had a sparsely-attended optional skate this morning. After playing last night, Jonas Gustavsson will start again tonight for the Maple Leafs.
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