MAPLE LEAFS (12-14-4) at FLAMES (13-15-9)
-- LEAFS TV, SNET-CGY (HD)
-- Toronto 4-5-1; Calgary 5-4-1.
-- The inter-conference rivals have been playing two the past couple of seasons, splitting in 2008-09, the Flames taking both in 2009-10. This is the first of two this year.
-- Dion Phaneuf
returns to Calgary for the first time since being traded from there to the Leafs last season, and his teammates have been preparing him for the reception he might receive, booing him in jest during practices. He had to skip practice Wednesday, though, to attend a family funeral on Prince Edward Island, but he's expected back in plenty of time for the game. While the fans may have Phaneuf on their minds, the Flames themselves are concentrating on winning back-to-back games for the first time in a month.
-- Phaneuf might have been a hot topic on Wednesday, but not just because of the game in Calgary. The one in his hometown of Edmonton commanded its share of attention as well. The captain scored his first goal of the season while just about every other aspect of the Leafs' game clicked in a 4-1 win in Rexall Place on Monday, their fourth win in six games.
“We knew this was a big trip. We talked about that and how we wanted to start it on the right foot,” Phaneuf said in the Globe and Mail after the game. “We didn’t like giving up as much as we did in the first period. Saying that, we responded well.”
As for Calgary, "It’ll be a special night. I played a lot of hockey there. I have a lot of respect for that organization. I have a lot of respect for the guys I played with.”
-- It's not quite the headline-stealer the Phaneuf story is, but one of the principals in the deal going back to Calgary will play Thursday. Matt Stajan
had been a healthy scratch the past two games but was told he would be in the lineup when the Maple Leafs came to town.
"It will be a special game," he told the Toronto Sun. "At the same time, once it starts, they become just another team we have to beat."
That's the attitude the rest of the team has as they try to get that second win in a row. Their most recent victory, holding off the Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime on Monday after blowing a 2-0 lead, said a lot about how resilient they can be.
"To win a game that looked like it slipped away is big for us," said captain Jarome Iginla
, who scored both Calgary's first goal and the game-winner. "This year, we haven't been able to be as resilient and win those different games as we should and that we need to."
-- Iginla is on an eight-game point streak with five goals and six assists. While the Leafs' recent success, particularly in the Edmonton game, has been a team effort, Mikhail Grabovski
still has four goals in five games, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere has won three of his last four starts.
-- Leafs forward Mike Brown
is skating with the team but is still a couple of weeks away from testing his surgically repaired finger in game action. Defenseman Mike Komisarek
(hand) has also been practicing, but with seven defensemen on the roster, he's not being rushed. Forward Jay Rosehill
(upper body) is day-to-day. Calgary defenseman Steve Staios (ribs) is still out indefinitely, as is forward Raitis Ivanans
-- The Leafs and Oilers are at the bottom of the NHL in penalty killing, so the Leafs boosted their mediocre-at-best power-play numbers with a 4-for-4 night. Their home power-play success rate is a mid-pack 19.4 percent, while Calgary's away power play percentage is at 12.3. Neither team is very good at stopping shorthanded attempts, Toronto allowing four goals to Calgary's five, not far off the pace of Tampa Bay's League-leading six.
-- "It should be applause. He didn't ask for a trade out of Calgary. Calgary thought they could make their team better." -- Leafs GM Brian Burke in The Globe and Mail on how the Calgary fans should react to Dion Phaneuf's return