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Maple Leafs' Polak, Blues' Gunnarsson face old teams

by Louie Korac /

MAPLE LEAFS (22-20-3) at BLUES (27-13-4)


ST. LOUIS -- When teams consummate a trade, the thought is they're hopeful it will work out for both sides.

In the case of the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears at least at the outset that each is satisfied with the trade that sent defenseman Roman Polak from St. Louis to Toronto for defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and a 2014 fourth-round pick, which the Blues used to select Finnish goalie Ville Husso.

The trade was completed at the 2014 NHL Draft and will come full circle Saturday when the Maple Leafs end a four-game trip against the Blues (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Gunnarsson, who spent the first five seasons of his NHL career with Toronto and had 15 goals and 86 points in 306 regular-season games, is getting into the swing of things with his new team.

Gunnarsson, 28, has missed two separate stints totaling 17 games with the Blues (27-13-4). He missed seven games at the start of the season recovering from offseason hip surgery, then 10 more after sustaining a concussion Dec. 6 against the New York Islanders.

"I don't think the surroundings or system's been the problem," said Gunnarsson, who has one goal and six points in 27 games with St. Louis. "I think it's been me coming back and coming back from injuries, being in game shape. It now feels good from the concussion to come back for whatever games we've played and it's been good."

For Polak, 28, who spent the first eight seasons of his NHL career with St. Louis and had 13 goals and 79 points in 424 games, he's established a career-high in goals (five) and gets to play a more prominent role with the Maple Leafs on the first and second defensive unit. In St. Louis, he was regularly on the third unit.

"I can join the rush a little bit," Polak said. "Actually, all the goals I scored was from joining the rush.

"It's kind of a weird feeling being on the other side of the rink. It's the first time for me here, [eight] years to be on the other side. It's different, but it's going to be an exciting game tonight."

Like most players, Gunnarsson downplayed the revenge factor of going up against the team that traded him.

"We look at it like any other game and [don't] get too emotional about it," Gunnarsson said. "Just try and play your game, go out there and after 60 minutes, hope you have those two points. It's going to be special, so you try and get that out of your head a little bit."

The Maple Leafs (22-20-3) have gone 0-3-0 on their road trip and been outscored 9-1.

"Our morale is good," interim coach Peter Horachek said. "We're getting chances. We just have to stay with it. I think we're going to see a good effort tonight."

The Maple Leafs will get forward David Booth (upper body) back in the lineup Saturday. Booth missed the game Thursday against the San Jose Sharks after getting hit on the nose with an elbow the previous game by the Anaheim Ducks' Sami Vatanen. Forward Troy Bodie is expected to be the healthy scratch, although Horachek didn't disclose who would sit after the morning skate.

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Winnik - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Mike Santorelli

Richard Panik - Trevor Smith - David Clarkson

Matt Frattin - Sam Carrick - David Booth

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak

Jake Gardiner - Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Troy Bodie, Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Joffrey Lupul (lower body), Peter Holland (upper body), Leo Komarov (upper body)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Butler, Martin Brodeur

Injured: Chris Porter (ankle)

Status report: Oshie did not participate in the morning skate but will play, according to coach Ken Hitchcock. Oshie blocked a shot in a 4-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and played Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings despite being questionable. … Horachek said Komarov flew back to Toronto and the Maple Leafs hope to have him at some point next week. Komarov has missed the past two games.

Who's hot: Steen, a former Maple Leaf, is riding a career-best eight-game point streak (six goals, eight assists). Linemate Backes is on a five-game point streak (seven goals, four assists).

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