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Maple Leafs implement lineup changes vs. Sabres

by Mike Brophy

SABRES (2-7-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (3-4-1)


TORONTO -- Randy Carlyle has shuffled the deck.

Unhappy with what he has seen from his team of late, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach has reunited left wing Joffrey Lupul with right wing Phil Kessel and they will skate with Nazem Kadri in the middle Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Kessel and Lupul played together under former Toronto coach Ron Wilson.

Tyler Bozak, who has been the Maple Leafs' No. 1 center the past few seasons, will have James van Riemsdyk and David Clarkson on his wings on the second line.

"This is the type of thing that happens throughout the season to try to get a little bit of a spark," Lupul said. "Phil and I obviously have some familiarity having played together before so we're comfortable being on the ice together. Hopefully it can spark both of us."

Kessel leads the Maple Leafs in scoring with four goals and eight points in eight games, but has been held pointless in three of his past four. Lupul also has no points in Toronto's past four games.

Carlyle said the reason for the line shuffle is obvious: What they had been doing was not working so it was time to try something new.

"Obviously they are offensive players and we'd like to stimulate some offense from different members of our lineup," Carlyle said. "Right now it has been a challenge for us to get something going other than the Kessel outburst [two goals, one assist] in Long Island."

The Maple Leafs have had their share of problems at home, where they are 1-4-0 compared to 2-0-1 on the road.

The Sabres are coming off their second win of the season, a 2-1 decision against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

One player for Buffalo who will be in the spotlight is defenseman Josh Gorges. The former member of the Montreal Canadiens refused a trade to Toronto in the summer and ended up being traded to the Sabres instead.

Gorges said the trade was a confusing time in his life and he did not mean to offend Maple Leafs fans.

"When it happened I was caught off guard," Georges said. "I told my agent right away that I needed some time to think. When you have the option, as I did, I wanted to talk it over with my wife and make sure before I made any decisions I knew what I was getting myself into and where I would be starting he next phase of my career."

Here are the projected lineups:


Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Chris Stewart

Cody Hodgson - Torrey Mitchell - Drew Stafford

Marcus Foligno - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - Sam Reinhart - Cody McCormick

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Mike Weber - Andrej Meszaros

Andre Benoit - Rasmus Ristolainen

Michal Neuvirth

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Nikita Zadorov, Tyson Strachan, Brian Flynn

Injured: Patrick Kaleta (upper body)


Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - David Clarkson

Daniel Winnik - Mike Santorelli - Leo Komarov

Richard Panik - Peter Holland - Matt Frattin

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Stephane Robidas - Jake Gardiner

Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Carter Ashton

Injured: David Booth (foot)

Status report: The Maple Leafs have dressed seven defensemen for each of the past two games, but demoted rookie Stuart Percy to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and now have six on the roster… Neuvirth will make his second straight start for the Sabres… Mitchell has played wing for the Sabres this season, but will play center against Toronto.

Who's hot: Panik scored his first goal for the Maple Leafs in Toronto's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday… Georges leads all NHL skaters with 41 blocked shots… Reinhart, 18, had an assist in Buffalo's 2-1 win against San Jose for his first NHL point.

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