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Struggling Thrashers head to Toronto

by Brian Compton
THRASHERS (24-21-10) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-26-5)


Last 10: Atlanta 2-5-3; Toronto 3-6-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Toronto avenged a 6-3 loss on Dec. 20 by pummeling the Thrashers in a 9-3 victory on Jan. 7 at Philips Arena.

Big Story: They've been in playoff position for the majority of the season, but the Thrashers enter Monday's action as the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta has won only twice in its last 10 games, which has allowed Carolina to pass the Thrashers in the standings.

"I'd be relatively happy if our season had gone in reverse," Atlanta GM Rick Dudley said. "We had a stretch where we played at such a high level, and our schedule caught up to us. I don't know if our guys got tired, or what they got, but our tempo dropped off and now we're attempting to regroup and get that tempo back. Sometimes you can do it. If you're a dedicated group of athletes you can do it. Sometimes you can't. I would be happier if the success we had in November was coming now."

Team Scope:

Thrashers: Carolina improved to 3-0 against Atlanta on Saturday night, as the Hurricanes handed the Thrashers a 4-3 overtime loss at the RBC Center. Erik Cole notched the game-winner 2:48 into the extra session and moved the Hurricanes into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

"We just found a way to play a little bit safe, and when you play a little bit safe and allow a good player to come down the ice full speed, it's a problem," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said.

Maple Leafs: The woes in Buffalo continued for Toronto on Saturday, as the Leafs dropped their seventh straight at HSBC Arena with a 6-2 loss to the Sabres. Rookie goalie James Reimer allowed five goals on 30 shots before being yanked after two periods for the Maple Leafs, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.

"I can't really put a finger on what it is,'' defenseman Luke Schenn said about Toronto's recent lack of success in Buffalo. "For whatever reason, we never seem to play well here. It's pretty frustrating."

Who's Hot: Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur has two points in his last three games. He leads Toronto with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists).
Injury Report: Atlanta will be without Tobias Enstrom (hand) and Jiri Slater (concussion). … Colton Orr (head) and Mike Brown (upper body) are out for Toronto.

Stat Pack: Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has one point in 2011. It came back on Jan. 2. … Toronto's Phil Kessel has not scored in 10 straight games. The Leafs have received only 11 goals by their defensemen this season.

Puck Drop: "We've been looking for some time for a forward to compliment our tops guys. If we wanted to buttress the defense that wouldn't be a bad idea either, but our number one priority is a top six forward. That is what we'd be looking for." -- Thrashers GM Rick Dudley
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