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Bolland likely scratch as Maple Leafs face must-win

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday facing possible elimination from the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the Maple Leafs lose to the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Phoenix Coyotes, the season ends for Toronto.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is looking for his team to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

"Off our morning skate I feel good about it," Carlyle said. "We had some life. We have met and talked about our situation and where we are at. More than anything it's a response. We are looking for a response from our performance the other night. That's what we spoke to them about; that's what we ask of them, because we were not happy about the other night, and the only way we are going to be judged is if we come out and compete to the level we are capable of."

Carlyle said it is likely forward Dave Bolland will be scratched Tuesday. Bolland, recovering from an ankle injury that sidelined him for 56 games, has experienced some difficulty since returning to the lineup eight games ago.

"Bolland will be a question mark right up to game time," Carlyle said. "He tried it this morning, but he is not 100 percent. It's a question mark for our lineup tonight. It's one of those things. It's not an injury that you can recover from quickly, and playing has obviously aggravated the repair job, so here we are again."

The Maple Leafs recalled forward Carter Ashton from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, and he skated Tuesday morning on a line with forward Nazem Kadri and forward David Clarkson.

Also recalled from the Marlies was goaltender Drew MacIntyre, filling the spot of the injured Jonathan Bernier.

Tampa Bay will have Ben Bishop in goal, his eighth consecutive start, 31st start in 33 games and 63rd appearance of the season. The most games Bishop had started in the NHL previously was 22, in 2012-13. Although the workload exceeds what Bishop has experienced in the past, Lightning coach Jon Cooper is unconcerned.

"I'm absolutely 100 percent comfortable when Ben goes in and every night moving forward," Cooper said. "Does that mean Ben will play the rest of the games we have left in the season? Probably not. He'll end up with say, 64 starts. It's not the most in the League and it's not the least in the League, but I think for a seven-year pro it's about time that has happened to him.

"Maybe he hasn't had his best couple of games of late. I truly believe Ben's a gamer. He hasn't been in the NHL that long, but in the minors he has played three games in three nights. He's done all that before. The mental grind of the NHL makes it different for him, but we've never started Ben Bishop when we weren't 100 percent on the same page about how he was feeling."

The Lightning have several rookies in the lineup who have never had to face the sort of playoff pressure that is building, but Cooper said he thinks they will be up to it.

"A lot of those players have played into June for two summers in a row now (in the AHL)," Cooper said. "So, there would be more concern for me to say that these guys have played a lot of hockey in the last two years. That would be more of a worry than the worry of them playing in a Stanley Cup Playoff.

"At some point you have to gain some experience. That's where it starts, so it might as well be now. It's got to happen at some point. Really, you should be concerned about me; I've never coached an NHL playoff game."

Here are the projected lineups:


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Nikolai KuleminJay McClementTroy Bodie

Carter AshtonNazem KadriDavid Clarkson

Mason RaymondColton Orr

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Morgan RiellyTim Gleason

Paul Ranger

James Reimer

Drew MacIntyre

Scratched: Jerry D'Amigo

Injured: Jonathan Bernier (strained MCL), Joffrey Lupul (knee), Dave Bolland (ankle)


J.T. Brown - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell

Ondrej Palat - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Richard Panik - Nate ThompsonTom Pyatt

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas

Eric BrewerAndrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Keith Aulie, B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk, Ryan Malone, Mark Barberio

Injured: Michael Kostka

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