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Game Journal: Game 12 - Jets vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:30 PM: Tonight's officials will be Chris Lee and Dan O'Halloran while Steve Miller and Greg Devorski will handle the linesman duties. You can tune in on Sportsnet, TSN 1050 and by following the Leafs on Twitter.

Get set for puck drop with some help from Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill.

4:15 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Jets.

Toronto Maple Leafs
21 van Riemsdyk - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
23 Matthias - 42 Bozak - 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 19 Lupul
40 Grabner - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes

51 Gardiner - 3 Phaneuf
2 Hunwick - 44 Rielly
52 Marincin - 46 Polak

34 Reimer
30 Bibeau

Winnipeg Jets
16 Ladd - 18 Little - 26 Wheeler
85 Perreault - 55 Scheifele - 27 Ehlers
6 Burmistrov - 17 Lowry - 12 Stafford
22 Thorburn - 19 Petan - 14 Peluso

39 Enstrom - 33 Byfuglien
7 Chiarot - 57 Myers
5 Stuart - 8 Trouba

31 Pavelec
34 Hutchinson

3:00 PM: Leafs TV also caught up with the Leafs ahead of tonight's game. Check out comments from Daniel Winnik, Nazem Kadri, James Reimer, Morgan Rielly and Shawn Matthias.

2:30 PM: Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul spoke to the media ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Do you have to adjust your game to play with Spaling-Winnik in a defensive role?
We're getting our scoring chances down low but the only adjustment would be off the rush. You want to make sure not to turn the puck over and not give them any more opportunities than they're going to get anyway. We try to just give them no freebies. Good players are going to make plays and get their chances no matter what. We can't turn pucks over and let them have free opportunities.

Do you think you thrive more off cycle play than the rush?
I think when my game is good and I'm playing well I think I can fit in anywhere in the lineup, whether it's first, second, third line. Whatever they need me to do. If it's check, if it's create offence, whatever. I'm trying to do a little bit of both right now.

Are you playing with a chip on your shoulder this season?
Not really, certainly you want to prove last year -- we didn't put our best foot forward and that's not how I want to be remembered by my time in Toronto. In a way you want to prove people wrong and prove last year was last year. It was disappointing for a lot of guys and we're moving on. Again, I'm just about the team winning right now and we haven't been doing that so we've made some steps in the right direction but now is a time where I look at the schedule and we've got to put some wins together and move up the standings.  

2:00 PM: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media on Wednesday following the morning skate. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

What has made the Lupul-Spaling-Winnik line so effective?
Good question. Spaling is a real conscientious guy, he has been given an opportunity here and become an important player for us. He seems to set the tone for the group. Lupes seems to play better on the cycle than he does on the rush, he scores better. We're fortunate that line is scoring at the rate it is so when people ask me why I've got them out there so much I can say because they score, I don't have to say because they check. It's not the flavour people want to hear. Obviously Winnik is a big body who can skate.

Do you like video review so far?
I liked it when we were right and I didn't like it when we were wrong. We've got two goals back and one for so we're down. What I would guard against is there are a lot of these plays -- to me, the goal we scored on Lundqvist, I think that should count. I think that's hockey. But, it doesn't matter what I think, they never ask me what I think. I would hate to have us -- it's impossible to score, all you've got to do is a math equation. You go to 1980 when the puck went in the net, you look at the average size of the goalies in the NHL and the average size of the net and you keep growing the net bigger, that would make the game the same. We change the game every year because we don't want to change the game, the net is too small for the size of the goalies, period. We can talk all we want, we still get quality, quality chances every night. The goals don't go in. The goalies are too good and the size of the net. We can do all the reviews we want, I just hope we don't take back goals.

Do you need the standard for goalie interference defined in some way?
It is defined -- you're not allowed to bump him. How do you score if you don't bump him? We can do 2-on-1 drills in practice until the cows come home but the puck doesn't go in the net. Why? Because they're big and square and good.

How have you seen goal scoring drop incrementally?
You've got super, super, super players that -- 50 (goals) is a huge number now. At one time you got a lot more. The other thing we did -- I've got lots of theories on what we've done to the game. What's next?

Are you concerned about the number of shots you gave up on Monday?
This is what I would tell you is after two periods -- and I didn't phone Lindy and say what are the scoring chances because sometimes ours and theirs might be different. We try to be as honest as we can. We had the chances as 10-7 Leafs after two, 7-1 for them in the third. When you get a little careful and you start backing up and giving up too much, that's not really how you do it. But, I'll take the win any way I can get it. When we were out-chancing and out-shooting, you get a moral victory and you get no points. Let's go back to doing it right and giving up no shots and score at the same time and keep it out of our net. I thought Reims was good, he got better as the game went on, he was nervous early it appeared and got more confidence as the game went on and that's great for him.

What did you see from Rielly on Monday beyond his stat line?
Too many guys got to the net on him. You saw -- him and I had a little chat about that yesterday -- he had the best night of his career, point-wise. I just saw Jamie Benn getting to the net all the time. So now there's two parts to it. For him to be what he's going to be and be a top, top, top D-man in the League, he's going to get better and better and better without the puck. What I like about him is he's trying to get better every day, he's dialed in all the time, he's a great kid, he can skate like nobody. He's just going to get better, he'll get confidence from that. We want to see him be impossible to get to the net on him, just a breakout machine, jump in the rush when it's right and not all the time

How do you help him get there?
I just think what you do is you try to show him how to get better. What you do with all your guys is you're trying to make them better. So to me I think the big thing is for coaches you try to develop a relationship, a trust. That doesn't mean it's got to be warm and cuddly all the time, it just means you're helping them get better. If a player believes you're trying to get them better, you care about them and you're trying to get them better, they're usually all-in.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of the fourth line forward playing important special teams roles?
I just think what you like to do is you want everyone on your team to be important. If everyone on your third and fourth line can be on your special teams that really helps you in four line games, you can come out of the gate with more tempo and everyone feels important and a part of it. Tonight, for example, Froese and Grabby are both going to kill. Boyes is going to be on the power play. We'd like to play Clune lots so we've got Clune penalty killing and getting net front on the power play. He's got to find a way to -- that's how you get more minutes. You want those guys to be important. I don't know if that's the evolution of a fourth line player, I just know that's what I do.

Do you expect Bernier at practice tomorrow?
I don't know.

What are your early impressions of Byron Froese?
I thought he was really good -- Matt Cullen, a 36-year-old veteran, good hockey player came in and fed him his lunch there the one game -- but I think that's all part of the process. He's a very serious guy, he takes it seriously, he's been important for us. We can play him on the right wing, we can play him at centre, he's got to win faceoffs, our penalty kill has gotten better since he's been here. Just being competitive and having good hockey sense helps him a lot.

1:30 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs come into Wednesday's game following a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday night. James Reimer stole the show, stopping 43 shots, while the Leafs got goals from Brad Boyes, Morgan Rielly and a pair from Joffrey Lupul. Reimer will return to the crease tonight in search of his third win of the season.

The Jets arrived in Toronto following a 5-1 loss on Sunday to the Montreal Canadiens. Michael Hutchinson took the loss after giving up four goals on nine shots before Ondrej Pavelec relieved him in goal. Chris Thorburn scored the lone marker of the night for Winnipeg. Pavelec will get the start tonight against Toronto.

Stay tuned for projected lineups, comments from Coach Babcock and the Leafs and more.

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