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Raycroft says he's starting tonight but Maurice refuses to confirm

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - Andrew Raycroft was happy, Vesa Toskala was not.

It was pretty clear who got the starting assignment in goal for Wednesday night's Toronto Maple Leafs season opener against the rival Ottawa Senators, even if head coach Paul Maurice refused to confirm it after the pre-game skate at Air Canada Centre.

"I'm not going to tell you who our starting goaltender is," said Maurice. "We'll talk about it after the game."

But it was fairly obvious. Raycroft was the first to leave the ice in the pre-game skate, which is the most traditional of tell-tale signs. Then he spilled the beans when a throng of media pestered him for the answer.

"It's really not a big deal to either one of us, obviously it's nice to be playing," said Raycroft, before adding a kicker: "At least I'll be getting one game in this year."

Raycroft said Maurice told him after practice on Tuesday.

The look on Toskala's face said it all. Acquired in Toronto's biggest off-season move during the June NHL entry draft, the former San Jose Sharks netminder was also given an US$8-million, two-year extension and was largely expected to carry most of the load this season after Raycroft struggled last year.

But Toskala fought the puck in pre-season, opening the door for Raycroft.

"I don't want to make a big deal of it," Toskala said after the pre-game skate. "It's going to be a long season. I just have to stay patient."

He gave largely the same answer to every question, seemingly biting his lip.

"It's going to be a long season and I'm just going to stay patient like I've been the last seven years," he said. "Like I said I just want to try and be ready when it's my turn to play."

Would he start Thursday night in Ottawa?

"I don't know," said Toskala.

Maurice generally told the media last season who his starting goalie was, but he's changed his policy for this season.

"I think as a rule around the league you'll find they don't announce their starting goalie unless they have a clearly defined rotation," he said. "It'll be fairly consistent or completely consistent throughout the year - I'm not going to announce who the starting goalie is.

"That's the way we're going to do."

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