If there's a Team Disarray in the NHL for now, it's the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are so many rumors floating out of Toronto about potential trades and other changes that it's hard to keep up with it all. Even for the Leafs, for Toronto, it's a lot -- and a lot of baggage they'll be carrying when they face off Friday against the Canes at PNC Arena.
"Toronto is an animal all its own," Canes defenseman John-Michael Liles recently said. And he should know, having played for the Leafs before being traded to the Canes last season.
"When you're winning everything is great. When you're losing it's tough," Liles added. "But that's what happens when you're in big-city Canada and hockey is the national sport. It's kind of like playing for the Yankees."
The Leafs have lost 23 of their last 27 games (4-21-2) after a 3-2 defeat on Tuesday to the Florida Panthers. Veteran forward Olli Jokinen, traded to Toronto from Nashville, played his first game with the Leafs and promptly talked about "a lot of negative energy" being around the team.
As for the Canes, they can't worry about that. They're coming off a 4-1 loss Tuesday to the New York Islanders, have dropped three of their last four and are looking for a bounceback.
"Our team game has slipped a little bit," Canes coach Bill Peters said Thursday. "We're 4-4-2 in our last 10 and we think we're better than a .500 team, so we have to go out and prove that.
"Their specialty teams are good. They're dangerous on the power play and are top 10 on the P.K. They've lost some games where they've played real well. We'll have a dangerous opponent and an opponent we respect."
Peters said center Victor Rask and winger Alex Semin would be back in the lineup after being healthy scratches the past two games. Rask will center Nathan Gerbe and Elias Lindholm, and Semin will be on the right side of the Riley Nash line with left wing Jeff Skinner.
Jordan Staal will center Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty, and Brad McClement will be at center with Brad Malone at left wing and Andrej Nestrasil getting another look on the right side.
The defensive pairings will have Andrej Sekera with Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey with Brett Bellemore and Tim Gleason with Liles.
Peters did not commit to a starting goaltender although Cam Ward could be playing his 499th NHL game as he approaches a major career milestone.
Defenseman Michal Jordan was reassigned Thursday to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), but Peters noted the Checkers are short on D-men with a game Thursday night and that Jordan will be recalled.
"It's good for him to continue to play games," Peters said. "He'll be back at some point."