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Maple Leafs could get Bernier back in goal

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs may have goalie Jonathan Bernier back against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Bernier has been out since March 13 when he left the game against the Los Angeles Kings with a strained groin. The Maple Leafs have lost five in a row in regulation without him. He joined goalies James Reimer and Drew MacIntyre at the morning skate and was the first one off, indicating he may get the start against the Blues.

"It would be huge," Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said about Bernier. "He's been great for us all year and he's one of the better goalies in the League this year. He's pretty much given us a chance to win every game he's played in this year. It'd be big for us."

When asked if Bernier was ready to play, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said they were waiting to hear from the medical staff if he was ready to go.

Bernier has been practicing recently and if he is ready to play, it comes at a time the Maple Leafs could use him the most. The five-game losing streak has them tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Obviously we'd like to be in a little better situation now, but we really can't change that," Lupul said. "This is still a fun time of year. It's probably more fun for Boston or Pittsburgh with their spot secured, but this is the time you want to play hockey.

"Yeah, there's some added pressure, but that comes with added fun and excitement. When you get in the playoffs it's the same situation. We know how to win these games, and we just have to be confident and believe we can."

The Maple Leafs trying to break a losing streak against the Blues is going to be difficult. St. Louis is the top team in the Western Conference and has won nine of its past 12 games. Two players the Blues know they have to defend strongly are forwards James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.

"I think we've just got to make them play defense," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a great line, they've got great elements on that line. We've just got to make them earn more feet of ice than they want.

"We can't get caught on the three-quarter ice game against that line or they're going to burn us. We're either going to have tired people on the ice or we're going to get caught trying to change and that's when they can really take advantage of you. I think for us we've just got to make them come further than they want to come and get them to spend some time in their own zone."

Goalie Ryan Miller will start for the Blues. In his career against the Maple Leafs while with the Buffalo Sabres, Miller is 31-15-3 with a .922 save percentage, a 2.46 goals-against average and four shutouts.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blues and Maple Leafs:


Alex SteenDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Jaden SchwartzVladimir SobotkaSteve Ott

Brenden MorrowPatrik BerglundMagnus Paajarvi

Chris PorterMaxim LapierreRyan Reaves

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Kevin ShattenkirkBarret Jackman

Carlo ColaiacovoRoman Polak

Ryan Miller

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Ian Cole, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Jordan Leopold (high-ankle sprain), Vladimir Tarasenko (hand), Derek Roy (lower body)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Joffrey LupulNazem KadriNikolai Kulemin

Mason RaymondDave BollandDavid Clarkson

Troy BodieJay McClementColton Orr

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Morgan RiellyTim Gleason

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Drew MacIntyre

Injured: Paul Ranger (neck)

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