Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

‘This loss stings’: Leafs fall to Habs, lose fourth straight


These aren’t good times for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They lost their fourth consecutive game, this time by a score of 4-3 to the rival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Tomas Plekanec gave Montreal the lead for good with a goal just after a Habs power play with under nine minutes remaining in the third period.

Plekanec beat James Reimer short side with a wrist shot from a bad angle, in what was another tough night for the Toronto netminder. The Habs opened up a two-goal lead in the first period, beating Reimer with a pair of soft goals on the glove side.

The Maple Leafs remain in the top Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, but only by two points over the ninth-place Columbus Blue Jackets.

“This loss definitely stings,” said Leafs forward Mason Raymond, as per Mark Masters of TSN.

Added Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf: “We gotta pull ourselves out of it … close isn’t good enough right now.”

The subject of goaltending has dominated the conversation lately in Toronto. However, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports that injured puck stopper Jonathan Bernier will not travel to New Jersey for tomorrow’s game between the Leafs and Devils.

For the Habs, the victory came with a price. Lars Eller left the game after the second period and did not return because of a lower-body injury, according to Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press. The Habs will recall Michael Bournival.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.