March 29, 2012
Leafs look to break home-ice losing streak against Flyers
By Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
The Maple Leafs can put a larger dent in the Philadelphia Flyers’ home-ice aspirations for the playoffs on Thursday night.
But that’s not what is driving the Leafs, who have five games remaining in a season that officially went into the toilet on Tuesday when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes and were eliminated from post-season contention.
“We can’t really think about other teams,” defenceman Carl Gunnarsson said. “If we ruin it for them, that is the way it is.
“We have to go out and try to win games. If we don’t give our best, it’s a break for the other team.”
The Flyers have 96 points and are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, four behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams probably will meet in the first round of the playoffs, with the fourth-place finisher getting home-ice advantage.
The Leafs, meanwhile, simply are hoping they don’t get booed off the ice. They’re riding a franchise record nine-game losing streak (0-6-3) at the Air Canada Centre, not having won at home since Feb. 6.
“We expect a team that has nothing to lose, and that is always dangerous,” Flyers forward Danny Briere said. “It’s always scary when you face a team like that. A few weeks ago here we did not create much offensively and we want to improve on that.”
On March 10 at the Air Canada Centre, the Flyers beat the Leafs 1-0 in a shootout.
Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal for the Leafs and be backed up by Jussi Rynnas. James Reimer, suffering from an upper-body injury, could be done for the season.
David Steckel is suffering from a lower-body injury and will be a game-time decision, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said.
The game aside, observers were abuzz when Eric Lindros joined the Flyers for their morning skate and then stayed on the ice for shinny with the Flyers’ assistant coaches and spare players.
Lindros, who retired in 2007, got a phone call from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren with an invitation to skate.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lindros said. “It was a good time. Any time you can wake up and enter this building and go have some fun on the ice, it is a blast, it really is.”
Meanwhile, now that the Montreal Canadiens have fired GM Pierre Gauthier, it is expected that Leafs assistant GM Claude Loiselle will be a candidate for the job.