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Maple Leafs set for four-point game vs. Red Wings

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs take a seven-game losing streak into Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets all start the day with 80 points in the standings as they chase the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Maple Leafs are at a disadvantage because the three teams they're competing with have more games remaining.

"I think it's one of those four-point games," Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson said. "Any time you play a team that you're in direct competition with, they're bigger than the others; especially at this time of year with the position that both teams are in. I think it's definitely one of those four-point games."

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.

"We've been in a battle for a little bit longer than just tonight and today's game," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "This is what pro sports are about. This isn't a fun place to be right now, I'll tell you that. There's pressure being applied in different areas, but the No. 1 thing that we have to do is we have to focus on self-improvement by a certain amount, and that will help the team grow."

The Maple Leafs held a light optional skate Saturday. James Reimer was the only goalie to participate and that points to Jonathan Bernier getting the start. Toronto recalled forward Jerry D'Amigo from the American Hockey League and he may draw into the lineup.

"I'm not trying to solve the whole thing here," D'Amigo said. "I'm just going to put in my best effort and give the guys some energy here."

The Red Wings have lost their past three games (0-2-1) and are coming off a 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

"They need a win and we need a win and that's been the case each night we've played probably for 20 games," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "So we're used to the environment we're in. It should be a lot of fun here tonight. They need a win and we need a win, it's just that simple."

Detroit will have Darren Helm as the center on the first line with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist on the wings. With so many injuries, the Red Wings will have eight players who played in the Calder Cup Finals for the Grand Rapids Griffins last season in the lineup against the Maple Leafs.

"The year you're in is the most challenging one," Babcock said. "It's just like marriage. You don't worry about the last one, you don't worry about the next one, you worry about the one you're in. It's the same thing. You've got to execute and you've got to find a way to get wins. That's all there is to it."

Goalie Jimmy Howard will start for Detroit.

Here are the projected lineups for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs:


Johan FranzenDarren HelmGustav Nyquist

Tomas TatarRiley SheahanTomas Jurco

Joakim AnderssonDavid LegwandDaniel Alfredsson

Drew MillerLuke GlendeningTodd Bertuzzi

Niklas KronwallBrendan Smith

Kyle QuinceyDanny DeKeyser

Jakub KindlBrian Lashoff

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Injured: Jonathan Ericsson (finger), Daniel Cleary (knee), Pavel Datsyuk (knee inflammation), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder), Stephen Weiss ( hernia), Justin Abdelkader (lacerated leg)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Mason RaymondNazem KadriJoffrey Lupul

Nikolai KuleminDave BollandDavid Clarkson

Jerry D'AmigoJay McClementTroy Bodie

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Morgan RiellyTim Gleason

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Colton Orr

Injured: Paul Ranger (neck)

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