April 7, 2012
Maple Leafs look for winning finale
By Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
One more game.
Then, thankfully, a couple of storied National Hockey League franchises can start trying to forget everything that was the 2011-12 regular season.
The Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens both will try to end their respective downward spirals with a victory on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
And, yes, both sides stressed there will be an effort to finish the season properly.
"We're professionals," Leafs forward Matthew Lombardi said after the morning skate. "We want to win. We're not going to come out and expect those guys not to feel like they want to get a big win. Pride is on the line here.
"You want to finish off on a good note. Everyone in here has pride. One game left and we want to make it a good one."
The Leafs are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with 80 points, and could move out of a top-five lottery draft pick with a victory. The Canadiens, who have 76 points, will finish in 15th place in the conference whether they win or lose.
The idea that the Leafs lose on purpose to get a higher draft pick, naturally, rubbed coach Randy Carlyle the wrong way.
"We have stated before that if we ever sold to our players we were coming here to tank a hockey game and give up two points, then your credibility and program is on out the window," Carlyle said. "That is not what we are about. Not the fabric we made of. We don‚t want our players to ever think that is an option for us. There are 82 games in the schedule and there are people who spend good money to watch NHL hockey. We feel it is best to give our best night in and night out."
The Habs have no interest in sending their bewildered fans off into the night with a sour attitude either.
"It's a difficult day coming to the rink and preparing and knowing it is going to be the last one," Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges said. "We owe it to our fans to come out and play hard, especially against this team. I don't think there is any love lost between these two teams and we want to keep it that way. We want to win."
Ben Scrivens was the first goalie off the ice in the morning and is expected to start for the fourth game in a row. That means Jonas Gustavsson, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, likely has played for the Leafs for the last time.
Centre Mikhail Grabovski, who missed two games with a laceration on his leg, also is expected to play for the Leafs.
Carter Ashton, who had no points in 15 games, has been returned to the Toronto Marlies.