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Maple Leafs try to cool off red-hot Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (23-19-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (15-23-9)

Last 10 -- Flyers 8-1-1; Maple Leafs 2-7-1

Season series -- This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. In their previous meeting on Jan. 6, Danny Briere scored a pair of goals and Daniel Carcillo had a goal, a fight and taunted the Leafs bench in a 6-2 Philadelphia victory.

Big story -- How will the Leafs rebound from the Flyers embarrassing them at the WachoviaCenter last week? The loss to Philadelphia started their current four-game skid. Or will the Flyers continue to roll? Their four-game winning streak started with the win in Toronto last week.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Why are the Flyers playing better? Simple -- confidence. Their four straight wins have boosted them into a playoff spot.

"I think there's definitely some confidence. I think winning does that," coach Peter Laviolette said. "You start to feel good about the way you've practiced, the way you've worked, the way you play a game. Because of that you get results, and I think all of that leads to confidence."

"We're so different from a month ago when we were losing games and the mood in the locker room was not too fun, and practice was tough," said Simon Gagne. "It was tough coming to the locker room. Now it's a good time … but we don't want to stop there."

Maple Leafs -- The Leafs obviously weren't thrilled with Carcillo's antics during last week's game. Carcillo scored a beautiful goal, but followed that by taunting the Leafs bench, arguing with assistant coach Keith Acton and making a throat-slashing gesture that earned him a $2,500 fine.

In advance of the rematch, the Leafs called up 6-foot-3, 215-pound defenseman Jay Rosehill from their AHL team. In six games with the Leafs, Rosehill has 16 penalty minutes; in 23 AHL games, he has 122 PIM.

"I'd be surprised if he does that again," Leafs forward Jamal Mayers said, who fought Carcillo in last week's game, told the Toronto Sun. "I don't think his fellow players and coaches were too happy with that."

Who's hot -- Flyers captain Mike Richards has a five-game point streak, during which he's posted 3 goals and 6 points. Teammate Danny Briere has a four-game point streak; in that span he has 2 goals and 4 points.

Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle is sixth in the League with 35 assists, and also has 39 points in 47 games. He's on pace for career-highs of 61 assists and 69 points.

Injury report -- The Flyers placed defenseman Danny Syvret on the long-term injured reserve with a Grade 3 shoulder separation, suffered in the first period of Tuesday's game against Dallas. The club expects him to miss about a month. They will insert Ole-Kristian Tollefsen into the lineup to replace him. Tollefsen has played just once since Nov. 7 due to a concussion and a knee injury. Scott Hartnell also is questionable after he missed the final two periods of Tuesday's game with an illness. … Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek is expected to miss another week with an upper-body injury.

Stat pack -- Flyers goalie Michael Leighton is expected to make his 11th straight start tonight. In that time he's 8-0-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. The Flyers have scored the first goal in each of their last 10 games. … Toronto has taken 133 shots in its last three games, but scored just five times while losing all three.

Puck drop -- A lot of the Leafs' fortunes rest on Phil Kessel, but 1 goal in his last 13 games is not what the team needs if it is to have any hope of finding respectability. The Leafs are just 3-8-2 in that span.

"I don't have much to say,'' Kessel said after a 4-2 loss to Carolina on Tuesday in which the Leafs outshot the 'Canes 40-18. "We're not playing good enough. It's a number of things. We've got to be better.''

"He wants to score more than anybody, that's a special art he has," Leafs coach Ron Wilson told reporters. "And when you're not doing it you tend to internalize and beat yourself up."

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