Flyers hope to rebound against Maple Leafs

( – The Philadelphia Flyers will try to rebound from a
costly loss when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for Thursday’s matchup at
Air Canada Centre.

The Flyers sit four points behind Boston for the final wild card spot in the
Eastern Conference, but that margin could be two points if Philly was able to
beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Bruins dropped a regulation
decision to Vancouver that night, while the Flyers fell 4-1 in a lackluster
road effort.

“I’m baffled,” Philadelphia head coach Craig Berube said after the loss. “We
didn’t execute very well at all and lacked energy in the game.”

Nicklas Grossmann accounted for the Flyers’ lone score and Rob Zepp made 31
saves against Carolina, which is second from the bottom in the East standings.
The setback marked just the second regulation loss for Philadelphia in its
last 14 games, as the club fell to 8-2-4 over that span.

Berube is hoping for a better effort tonight when his club tries to complete a
sweep of the three-game season series with Toronto. The Flyers have won three
straight overall against the Maple Leafs and have taken seven of the past nine
encounters at Air Canada Centre.

Zepp is expected to start again tonight with rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz
serving as the backup.

Philadelphia’s top two goaltending options are unavailable as Ray Emery
recently joined No. 1 netminder Steve Mason on the shelf. Emery is out with a
lower-body injury, while Mason, who has missed the last eight games with a
knee injury, is nearing a return to action. The Flyers have targeted
Saturday’s home tilt against the rival New York Rangers as a possible return
date for Mason.

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen also could go Saturday versus the Rangers. Timonen
has not played this season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, expect to have defenseman Dion Phaneuf back
tonight after he missed the last 12 games with a hand injury. Phaneuf has two
goals and 20 assists in 48 contests this season and is leading the club in
average ice time with 23 minutes, 5 seconds per game.

However, Toronto will move on without forward Daniel Winnik, who was traded to
Pittsburgh on Wednesday for Zach Sill and a pair of draft picks. Winnik had
seven goal and 25 points in 58 games with the Maple Leafs this season, while
Sill, a 26-year-old forward, has a goal and three points in 42 contests.

Toronto is well outside the playoff picture in the East and expects to be
sellers before Monday’s trade deadline arrives. The Leafs picked up a second-
round draft pick in 2015 for Winnik and a fourth-rounder in 2015.

The Leafs has been idle since ending a five-game slide (0-4-1) with Saturday’s
4-3 overtime win over visiting Winnipeg. James van Riemsdyk scored the game-
winning goal late in OT, while Winnik and Nazem Kadri each tallied a goal and
an assist in regulation.

Leo Komarov also lit the lamp and Morgan Rielly supplied two helpers for the
Maple Leafs, who entered the game with losses in 16 of their last 17. Jonathan
Bernier made 31 saves in the win.

Toronto is 17-13-0 as the home club this season.