February 19, 2013
Maple Leafs' John-Michael Liles a likely scratch again Tuesday
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles. (QMI Agency)

TAMPA - John-Michael Liles can’t blame Randy Carlyle for benching him.

The Maple Leafs defenceman was a healthy scratch for Monday’s 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers and there was no guarantee Liles would be back in the lineup on Tuesday night when the Leafs visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“I don’t think I have been playing up to where I should be playing and that is one of the things we discussed,” Liles said on Tuesday morning. “He has been very open from Day 1 and this is no different.

“He is the coach, and you can’t argue with it. It’s not the first time it happened and hopefully I’ll get back in at some point and keep working hard.”

Liles was one of a handful of Leafs who participated in the optional morning skate. He was benched in favour of Carl Gunnarsson, who played against Florida after missing eight games with a hip ailment.

Liles, in 15 games, has one goal and five assists and is plus-2. It was the first time in his time as a Leaf that he was a healthy scratch.


Carlyle was not available to reporters on Tuesday morning.

The Leafs are 7-2-0 on the road. When did they most recently have eight wins in their first 10 road games? You have to go all the way back to 1934-35, when they were 8-1-1 in their initial 10 games away from Toronto.

“Their skill guys are buying in,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said about the Leafs. “They are paying the price and using their speed. It’s a good mix and a reason why they are doing well.”

The Leafs have to contend with Steven Stamkos, who has nine goals and 12 points in 21 games. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier also have been sharp, as has Teddy Purcell. Then there is Burlington native and rookie Cory Conacher, who has five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 14 games.

Stamkos realizes Scrivens has back-to-back shutouts, but he has not been viewing tape of the hot Leafs goalie. Scrivens has a shutout string of 144 minutes 51 seconds.

“I know some players watch videos of goalies, but I don’t,” Stamkos said. “Hockey is a game of reaction. For me, it’s about reading the play.”

In 16 career games against the Leafs, Stamkos, a native of Markham, has eight goals and 11 assists.

Tampa beat Florida on Saturday after losing six in a row. The Leafs have won six of their past seven games.

General manager David Nonis, meanwhile, said forward Matt Frattin’s minor knee surgery was successful and that the forward is approximately 10 days from returning. Goalie James Reimer, out with a knee injury, was scheduled to go for a light skate on Tuesday or Wednesday, Nonis said.

Tampa will start Anders Lindback in net.

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