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Maple Leafs need more goals out of van Riemsdyk

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Randy Carlyle didn't beat around the bush.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs coach was asked what he needed from James van Riemsdyk, he smiled and said, "Goals."

The 23-year-old right wing will try to snap a five-game pointless drought Thursday night when the Maple Leafs host the Carolina Hurricanes -- two teams battling for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina defeated Toronto in the teams' previous two meetings this season.

Van Riemsdyk is third in Toronto scoring with 14 goals and 22 points in 34 games, but has one assist in his past seven games.

"I definitely have a positive attitude," van Riemsdyk said, "but one of the things that has been a key for me is early in my first year in the NHL with Philadelphia, Chris Pronger pulled me aside and said when things aren't going well for me offensively that's when you have to bear down and don't take any shortcuts and make sure the rest of your game is strong and that's something I have tried to do -- continue to be strong along the wall and contribute on the penalty kill.

"Your attitude is to go out and try to score every shift, but that obviously isn't going to happen, so I'll continue to work hard and just go from there."

Normally a left wing, van Riemsdyk has been switched to the right side to play with center Nazem Kadri and left wing Nikolai Kulemin. Kadri leads the Maple Leafs in scoring with 14 goals and 35 points and said he'll do whatever he can to help his new linemate get out of his funk.

"I'm well aware of what he's been going through and I take pride in trying to make whomever I am playing with better," Kadri said. "Riems knows he has a centerman who is going to be looking for him and he has to get open and get low to try to get me the puck knowing that it will be coming right back to him."

The Hurricanes did not take a morning skate, but did say Justin Peters would start in goal. John Muse was summoned from Charlotte of the ECHL to serve as backup. Carolina, which sits in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the eighth place New York Rangers, has lost three in a row.

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night. Though listed as a scratch, Toronto defenseman John-Michael Liles practiced and will be a coach's decision.


Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Nikolai Kulemin - Nazem Kadri - James van Riemsdyk

Jay McClement - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin

Frazer McLaren - Ryan Hamilton - Colton Orr

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Michael Kostka

Mark Fraser - Cody Franson

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

Injured: Leo Komarov (upper body), Clarke MacArthur (upper body)

Scratched: John-Michael Liles, Jesse Blacker


Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Tuomo Ruutu

Drayson Bowman - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer

Adam Hall - Tim Brent - Kevin Westgarth

Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo

Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain

Jay Harrison - Brett Bellemore

Justin Peters

John Muse

Injured: Chad LaRose (flu), Dan Ellis (lower body), Cam Ward (knee), Justin Faulk (knee)

Scratched: Jussi Jokinen

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