The Toronto Maple Leafs have been scoring plenty of goals and getting good play in net since a recent loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
If the Maple Leafs are going to remain undefeated since that defeat, they'll have to do it without winger Matt Frattin and goaltender James Reimer.
Toronto will try to win five straight for the first time in six seasons on Thursday night when it faces the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes, who look to build off a solid six-game trip.
Since losing 1-0 to Boston on Feb. 2 and 4-1 to Carolina (7-4-1) two days later, the Maple Leafs (8-5-0) have outscored their opponents 17-6 while matching their longest winning streak since Jan. 3-10, 2012.
Toronto's last 5-0-0 run spanned Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2007.
The Maple Leafs will try to match that streak without Frattin, who is sidelined at least a week as he needs a procedure on his surgically repaired knee.
"He had an issue with the MCL that was corrected and this is something that flared up and it's not something the doctors feel will be long term," coach Randy Carlyle said Wednesday of Frattin, the team leader with seven goals and 10 points since being called up Jan. 24. "He will have the procedure here in the next 24 hours and we'll see when he is back and made available to us."
Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur will now be joined on the top line by Jay McClement, who has one assist in his last six games.
Without Frattin, who scored the team's only goal versus Carolina last Monday, the Maple Leafs could use continued production from Phil Kessel, who has a team-high seven points during the winning streak, and James van Riemsdyk, who leads the club with four goals during this surge.
Defensively, Toronto will have to lean on Ben Scrivens and recent call-up Jussi Rynnas for the next week or so after Reimer suffered a strained knee ligament in the second period of Monday's 5-2 victory over Philadelphia.
Whomever Carlyle gives the nod to will face a Carolina team that's netted 20 goals during a 4-0-1 run that began on Feb. 4.
The Hurricanes take the ice for the first time since capping off a 4-1-1 stretch outside of Raleigh - their best trip of that length since going 5-1-0 from Feb. 7-March 8, 1998 - with Tuesday's 4-2 victory over Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey.
"It was a huge trip, the longest trip of the year," said Cam Ward, who is 4-0-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average since the team's last game in Raleigh. "We're all excited now to go home."
Carolina, which has played the fewest home games (four) of any team in the East, will try to end the Maple Leafs' four-game road winning streak.
Toronto, though, has dropped two straight and seven of 10 visiting the Hurricanes.
Carolina could continue its dominance in this series - it has won nine of the last 12 meetings - if captain Eric Staal and center Jiri Tlusty keep generating offense. All eight of Staal's goals and all eight of his assists have come during a 10-game point streak, while all five of Tlusty's goals have come in the last three games.
Tlusty set up Staal's power-play goal on Feb. 4 - the eventual game-winner - as the Hurricanes extended their point streak in this matchup to five (4-0-1).
|Back to top ↑|