Lupul scratched vs. Bruins

- April 3rd, 2014

Joffrey Lupul, battling a lower-body injury, was scratched by the Maple Leafs on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.
Lupul participated in the morning skate, but is believed to have been bothered by the injury for a while.
It’s the third time Lupul has been sidelined by an injury this season, but he has played in the past 46 games.
In 68 games this season, Lupul has 22 goals and 22 assists and is minus-14.
With Lupul out, Jerry D’Amigo was on a line with Nazem Kadri and Troy Bodie during the pre-game warmup.
Carter Ashton, recalled earlier Thursday from the Toronto Marlies, was a healthy scratch. Colton Orr also was scratched.

Leafs “are going to need everybody” to beat Bruins

- April 2nd, 2014

Back to reality.
Never mind the Maple Leafs’ win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, the Boston Bruins arrive at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.
Anything but a perfect game by the Leafs and it’s just about assured another loss will be the result.
“When you play teams of that calibre, you have to be on the top of your game,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after a handful of players participated in an optional practice on Wednesday at the MasterCard Centre.
“You have to be playing at your highest level. You have to be prepared to compete in the small areas of the ice because they are a big hockey club and they have a lot of depth in their lineup and they play the same way.”
It’s not just that the Bruins routinely beat the Leafs, though Toronto has one win in three games versus Boston this season and still thinks of the first-round loss in the playoffs last spring as somewhat of a moral victory.
Boston, which plays in Detroit against the Red Wings on Wednesday night, went 15-1-1 in March. The regulation loss happened on March 1 against Washington, while Montreal won in a shootout on March 24.
What’s more, the Bruins have not lost in regulation on the road since Jan. 9, when they were beaten 4-2 by the Kings in Los Angeles.
Since, they are 13-0-3 in 16 road games.
The Leafs, of course, fell apart in the latter half of March, ending an eight-game losing streak when they beat the Flames 3-2. They have to win at least four of their final five games, if not all of them, to have a shot at making the playoffs.
“We’re going to need everybody against Boston if we want to win that game,” centre Tyler Bozak said. “We feel in this room we are still in the hunt and have to win our games. We have to be rested and it will be a big one tomorrow night.”

Leafs creeping close to 1985 level

- March 29th, 2014

The year was 1985.
Dan Maloney was the coach. Rick Vaive was the captain.
An 18-year-old kid was on his way to scoring 34 goals as an NHL rookie, during a season in which he would entrench himself in the hearts of Leafs fans. Wendel Clark still has that hold in Leafs Nation, having never really left.
Harold Ballard was perched in his bunker at the north end of Maple Leaf Gardens.
On Oct. 19, the Leafs lost 4-3 against the Winnipeg Jets at the Gardens.
On Nov. 6, the Leafs fell 5-4 versus the visiting New York Islanders. Between those two games, there were six other losses in regulation.
The Leafs haven’t lost eight games in a row in regulation since.
That could change on Saturday night when the Detroit Red Wings arrive at the Air Canada Centre. The latest Leafs setback came in Philadelphia on Friday night, when another inconsistent effort resulted in a 4-2 loss against the Flyers.
With seven games remaining, the loss gouged another large chunk out of their playoff plans — sportsclubstats.com gives the Leafs a 19.8% chance of earning a post-season berth.
Since the Leafs had that bad streak in 1985 — it actually was nine games, as they had lost in overtime against Washington three nights before the Jets beat them — there have been other lengthy skids. Several have included 0-7-1 runs.
In 1987-88, Toronto went a team record 15 games without a victory, but they had four ties in that streak.
But not eight in a row in regulation.
The Leafs’ franchise record? They lost 10 in a row in regulation in 1966-67, the most recent season that ended in a Stanley Cup title.

Kadri: “We are playing for our lives”

- March 27th, 2014

Put up or shut up.
A six-game losing streak has put the Maple Leafs into that position, and they’re fully aware that another loss will further diminish their playoff hopes.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Leafs have bumped up against a must-win situation on Friday night in Philadelphia against the Flyers.
“(We have to) understand that this is desperation time and we are playing for our lives, so we have to go start acting like it,” forward Nazem Kadri said after practice at the MasterCard Centre on Thursday.
“We need some individuals to step up here in the next couple of games, which I think we will have. Those are games we know we can have. We are going to have to bring our best.”
The Leafs won’t have time to think once they depart Philly, as the Detroit Red Wings visit the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
Since beating the Kings in Los Angeles on March 13, the Leafs have been stuck on 80 points. They have not lost seven consecutive games since October 2009, and their nine-point cushion in the Eastern Conference has disappeared.
Heading into Thursday’s games, the Leafs are in 10th place. But the three teams immediately ahead of them — Columbus, Detroit and Washington — also have 80 points, so Toronto remains in contention.
The Leafs expect a tough environment in Philadelphia, where the Flyers have 22-13-1 record.
“They are going to come after us, I know that,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “They are going to be snarly. They have played much better defensively and have been aggressive. We’re going to be prepared to match that intensity in their building.
“We’re going to go into a hostile environment and we know that.”
The analogy Carlyle used a couple of days after the Leafs mostly stood around and watched the St. Louis Blues beat them?
“If you are going to stand there and you are in a street fight, and you are not going to move, you allow somebody to swing away, you are going to get hit,” Carlyle said. “We have to move ourselves. We have to move our feet, continue to move the puck effectively and we have to skate.”
Jonathan Bernier, who did not speak to reporters after practice, should get the call in net against the Flyers. There have been no indications his groin has given him trouble in the past couple of days.
Defenceman Paul Ranger, who has missed three games with a neck injury, could be ready to return.
“I’m not sure yet,” Ranger said. “I feel pretty good but I have to talk to the trainers and the doctors and see if they clear me to play. It’s a combined decision tomorrow.”
There was a wrinkle in practice, as Mason Raymond was moved up to the left side on a line with centre Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul, who was shifted to the right wing. Nikolai Kulemin was on the left wing with Dave Bolland and David Clarkson.
Depending on the status of Ranger, Carlyle could go back to using 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
No matter the lineup, the situation is dire, and the Leafs know it.
“Tomorrow is a huge game for our team,” captain Dion Phaneuf said. “There is no sitting here feeling sorry for ourselves. We are ready to go in there and work and that’s what we are going to do.”
terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca
twitter.com/koshtorontosun

Reimer shrugs off tweets directed toward his wife

- March 25th, 2014

Some negative tweets directed at his wife don’t ruffle the feathers of James Reimer.
“For every unfortunate tweet, I think there was 10 or 20 people sticking up for her or me,” the Maple Leafs goaltender calmly said on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of great fans out there, and unfortunately a few of the obnoxious ones, their voice gets heard, But it was definitely a lot louder from people who were supportive and sticking up for her. It’s great to have that support.”
Reimer’s inconsistent play in recent games has been a sore point for fans, and when the Leafs lost against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, Reimer’s wife April Reimer was the target of some of the team’s supporters on Twitter. Some tweets included opinions about her husband’s performance; others were of a vulgar nature that were personal.
Reimer was asked following the Leafs’ morning skate on Tuesday whether his wife was hurt by the attention.
“She is a big girl, she is a strong woman, and I am very fortunate to be married to her,” Reimer said.
“If you are disappointed in the way I play, come to me and tell me. Don’t go to someone’s wife or family, especially hiding (the anonymity that can come with social media). It’s unfortunate. If that is what you have to do to feel good about yourself, then that is what you have to do.”
After the Leafs’ game in New Jersey against the Devils on Sunday night, centre Tyler Bozak said the tweets “were pretty low and pretty sad.”