MAPLE LEAFS (22-24-4) at FLYERS (21-22-7)
TV: CBC, CSN-PH
PHILADELPHIA -- With eight straight losses (0-7-1) and three wins in their past 19 games (3-15-1), Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said it's only human nature for he and his teammates to be in a foul mood right now when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
However, he's been around long enough to know that things can change in a hurry.
"It feels right now like we need something to go right," Lupul said after the Maple Leafs' morning skate Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. "But that's not going to happen unless you come here with a positive attitude and expect to win the game. It's kind of ... it's a bit of a struggle. You need everyone to show up with a positive attitude but there hasn't been that much positive to build on. It takes having a good mindset and being mentally strong to come in here and be ready to go."
Interim coach Peter Horachek said he feels the players have the right mindset to turn things around.
"It doesn't sound in the room like there's any major issues," he said. "I've had enough guys speaking up. Now it's about getting results. You have to stay the course. You can't sway and you can't doubt yourself. You have to believe and you have to trust each other and that's where it has to go."
One way they can solve their problems is finding more offense. Since Horachek replaced Randy Carlyle as coach the Maple Leafs have 14 goals in 10 games but seven of those goals came in the first two games; they have scored one goal or fewer in seven of their past eight games. The Maple Leafs are averaging 29.4 shots per game in 10 games playing for Horachek, which is almost equal to the 29.2 shots per game they averaged in 40 games under Carlyle.
"You need to score on your chances," Horachek said. "We're getting the same number of chances. We're getting breakaways, we're getting opportunities. Other than that we have to spend more time on the inside and stopping at the net and getting secondary chances. When you get a chance or a rebound we've got to start getting those kind of chances, get hungrier around the blue [goal crease]. We've seen bits and pieces of it but not enough. We need to spend more time there."
Despite the Leafs' struggles, Flyers coach Craig Berube knows his team has to be careful Saturday.
"There's a ton of talent," Berube said. "You obviously have to do a good job with the Bozak line [Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk]. ... Van Riemsdyk the other night against [New Jersey Devils], just a bank pass off the boards and he's gone on a breakaway and he scores. He and Kessel have the ability to read a play and get open and get breakaways. You've got to keep these guys in front of you. We have to make sure we're playing good defense, not giving up odd-man rushes and play a hard-checking game."
James Reimer will be in goal for Toronto after Jonathan Bernier played back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday against the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes.
The schedule, not the goal from the far blue line Bernier allowed Thursday against the Coyotes, is the reason Reimer is starting Saturday.
"I think that he [Bernier], other than those two [third-period] goals, played pretty solid," Horachek said. "But it's the first time he's played back-to-back and this would have been three in four nights. I think it was a good time for [Reimer] to go in. He's practiced really hard and looked good in practice. I thought it was the perfect time."
The Flyers, who skated Saturday at their suburban New Jersey practice facility, won't have any lineup changes. Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann practiced but will not play because of an upper-body injury.
After Saturday the Flyers are off until Thursday; Berube said having a few days off was a big factor in sitting Grossmann again Saturday.
"Just think with the time coming up after this game, we can get some good practice time in," Berube said. "The biggest thing is just practice for me. Big guy like that, he needs some practice."
Philadelphia will go for its fourth straight win Saturday. It's the fourth time they've won three straight but they have yet to push a streak to four.
Here are the projected lineups:
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov - Peter Holland - Mike Santorelli
Daniel Winnik - Nazem Kadri - Joffrey Lupul
Richard Panik - Trevor Smith - David Clarkson
Korbinian Holzer - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Petter Granberg
Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak
Scratched: David Booth
Injured: Dion Phaneuf (hand), Stephane Robidas (upper body)
Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Petr Straka - Ryan White - Wayne Simmonds
R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn
Carlo Colaiacovo - Andrew MacDonald
Suspended: Zac Rinaldo
Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Braydon Coburn (lower body), Michael Raffl (illness), Scott Laughton (concussion), Nicklas Grossmann (upper body)
Status report: Phaneuf was on the ice for the first time since injuring his hand during a game Jan. 21 against the Ottawa Senators. He came out near the end of the morning skate and did conditioning drills; he did not handle the puck. He's considered week-to-week and Horachek said it was too soon to know when the he would return. However, he said it was good to have Phaneuf with the team as it started a three-game road trip. "The conditioning and joking with the guys and being back in the locker room. It's good to see them all. [Stephane Robidas] too. The guys who are leaders on the team have been through a lot of these times. When you go through tough times, when you're not winning games when you think you should have, or you're going through a tough stretch, you need your leadership, you need those people in the room to speak up. Having [Robidas] around too has helped as well." ... Raffl skated Saturday but is not ready to play. He got sick during the All-Star break, and general manager Ron Hextall said fluid was found in Raffl's lungs. He will miss his third straight game.
Who's hot: Van Riemsdyk has two goals and one assist during a three-game point streak. ... Voracek has six assists during his five-game point streak. He will play in his 500th NHL game Saturday. ... Simmonds has goals in back-to-back games after scoring two goals in his previous 15 games. He'll play in his 500th NHL game Saturday.