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Hurricanes fearful of Maple Leafs' speed
TORONTO -- Maple Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk did not practice with the team Wednesday, but he is expected to be ready to play for Toronto against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
"We won't know 100 percent until tomorrow, but we expect him to play," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday.
Van Riemsdyk left the ice slowly, favoring his right leg, after a collision in the corner Monday in Toronto's 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He went to the locker room for one shift before returning to the bench.
The Hurricanes (3-3-1) will be coming off a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday when they play the Maple Leafs (7-2-0) at the Air Canada Centre.
"I thought we had some chances," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said after the Tuesday defeat. "I thought we had some power play opportunities all three periods and didn't take advantage. We ended up 0-for-4 (with three shots), and the best power play was probably our last one."
The Hurricanes, who have lost two in a row, will be playing for the fifth time on the road in their past six games. They will return home to play the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
The Hurricanes are bracing for a difficult opponent in the Maple Leafs.
"They play with a lot or speed and skill," Carolina left winger Brock McGinn said. "They move the puck really well. They follow their systems really well. I think we have kind of a similar team here, and if we play our style against them, we'll match up really well against them. So, we just have to go out and do that."
Peters would like to see the offensive players step up. The Hurricanes are 28th in the NHL in scoring, averaging 2.4 goals a game.
"They need to get going. It's time," Peters said. "They've got to make sure they're getting into the high-traffic areas on a consistent basis and on and off the stick. ... Let's get a shooter's mentality and get the puck to the net."
"I think we're close," said defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who scored Carolina's goal Tuesday, his second of the season. "I think we're doing the right things offensively and getting those chances. I think they're going to start going in."
Hurricanes left winger Jeff Skinner, a Toronto native, usually does well at the ACC with five goals and nine assists there in 21 career games.
Peters said he expected to take the same lineup as the one used Tuesday into the game Thursday.
As for the Maple Leafs, Connor Brown skated in van Riemsdyk's spot during practice on the line with Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner.
Eric Fehr, who has cleared waivers and reported to the AHL Toronto Marlies this week, skated with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. He and Josh Leivo, who has not played in a game this season, took turns on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Matt Martin.
"If (van Riemsdyk) is not going, I'm ready," Leivo said. "It's my job. Been working hard. See how James feels tomorrow and go from there. Working hard off the ice keeps me in shape. Just a matter of staying with it. The mental side was just getting through each day. Keep me positive."
Babcock said, "(Leivo) has been great about that. We have talked about it lots. We have had players here in the past who were disgruntled and then when they went somewhere else they found out they weren't NHL players. You're getting paid to get better, you're getting paid to train and you're getting paid to be ready.
"(Leivo) is getting a chance for sure (at some point). Be ready and make sure no one can take you out. The beauty of the system is, once you get in, if you play good enough, no one takes you out."
The 24-year-old left winger played in 13 games for the Maple Leafs last season, collecting two goals and eight assists. In 41 career NHL games, the 2011 third-round draft pick has nine goals and nine assists.
Updated October 26, 2017