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Game Journal: Game 2 - Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:00 PM: Here is Paul Hendrick with today's game preview from Detroit. Tune into tonight's game on Sportsnet One, TSN 1050 and on Twitter with the #TMLtalk hashtag.


3:00 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Leafs and Red Wings...

Toronto Maple Leafs
Forwards
21 van Riemsdyk - 43 Kadri - 28 Boyes
23 Matthias - 42 Bozak - 19 Lupul
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 15 Parenteau
47 Komarov - 24 Holland - 33 Arcobello
Defence
2 Hunwick - 3 Phaneuf
51 Gardiner - 52 Marincin
44 Rielly - 36 Harrington
Goaltenders
45 Bernier
34 Reimer

Detroit Red Wings
Forwards
8 Abdelkader - 40 Zetterberg - 71 Larkin
21 Tatar - 17 Richards - 14 Nyquist
93 Franzen - 15 Sheahan - 56 Pulkkinen
20 Miller - 41 Glendening - 29 Ferraro
Defence
55 Kronwall - 52 Ericsson
27 Quincey - 25 Green
2 Smith - 4 Kindl
Goaltenders
35 Howard
34 Mrazek

2:00 PM: Here's what Nazem Kadri had to say ahead of tonight's game.
On the similarity in systems between Detroit and Toronto:
Obviously there are some similar styles. Babs likes to do the same things. We're both going to be a skating team, we're similar in that regard. It's just going to be who wants it more.

Would it be nice to get Babcock the win tonight?
Of course, it would be nice for all of us. Obviously Babs, it's the first time for him coming back in the regular season, he probably wants this one a little more and gives him a little more incentive. We'll be working tonight and hopefully we can cash in for two points.

Do you feel like you're due to score?
Of course, we're one game in and we're already saying that. It's definitely something where you have to keep shooting the puck and eventually pucks are going to start finding the net. If you keep doing things right and doing things simple and we keep that chemistry we've had over the past couple of games and we're bound to score goals.

How do you define Boyes' game sense?

He's been around for a long time, Boyes is very smart with the puck, his hockey IQ is through the roof and he's great at those little plays just finding open areas. He's definitely going to be looking to give the puck and get it back and he does a great job of getting open.

Do you think you're trying to manufacture goals in a different way than you have in the past?
Not necessarily, I think it's the same concept throughout the league. You put pucks on net, you get secondary opportunities, rebounds, whatever it may be. I don't know what the exact stat is but the majority of goals are scored just outside the blue paint. We're going to have to get into those areas and get lucky once or twice... There's going to be goals, there's going to be guys who make plays off the rush, you're going to have opportunities when you're going to have odd-man rushes and that's when you let your skill do the work and cash in on those opportunities. For the most part it's in-zone play, being heavy on the puck down low and getting pucks to the net.


1:30 PM: Here's what Matt Hunwick had to say after today's practice...

Leafs TV
How has the intensity Mike Babcock brings to games and practices rubbed off on guys?
I think he's been great. I was just telling someone, he's very straightforward, you know what to do on the ice, you know what he expects. Our practices are pretty crisp, we got out there, we work hard, we know exactly what he wants. We're just trying to get better every day, learn the systems and compete hard.

How does he keep guys sharp?
During training camp he wasn't afraid to stop a drill if we were doing something wrong so he was quick to get rid of the bad habits and implement his systems and what he wants done. It's great, it's easier to learn that way, you know exactly what is expected of you, you just have to go out and execute.

Is there a learning curve?
I think everyone is different, we've adjusted. System-wise our last two pre-season games were our best games and obviously our last game against Montreal, we played fairly well as well. I think we're starting to get adjust to the system and we're certainly competing hard.

Are these teams similar given what we saw in the pre-season and what we can expect tonight?
I think there's a lot of similarity in system. Detroit has a lot of talent but they compete as hard as anyone so it'll be a lot of fun to match up against them tonight.

What do you take away from the Montreal game?
We did a lot of good things. I think we carried the play for long stretches, there were a few hiccups throughout the game but that's hockey, it's a game of mistakes. There's a lot of good things we can take from that. We watched some of the negative stuff and we're going to learn from it and hopefully go out and play well tonight.


1:00 PM:
Mike Babcock spoke to the media following today's morning skate. Here's what he had to say...
Leafs TV
How much of a storyline is you coming back tonight?
I don't think it is, I think the story tonight is the Red Wings play the Leafs, two Original Six franchises, one that's holding its rightful place and one that's trying to get back to where it should be. I look forward to the game, we need the points badly, we dropped our first one so it's important to get on the winning side.

Was the fourth line (Spaling's line) good motivation for how you want the game played on Wednesday?
I thought they were our third group and one or two in last game. I think we've got a group that whatever group plays the best is going to play the most and in the right situations. Over time we'll figure out who is one and two and three and four. Right now we're just the Leafs and trying to get better.

Is tonight a matter of who executes your system better?
I don't why it's similar — that's my surprised face — for real, they know. In saying that, they've been doing it for a long time and we've been doing it for a couple of weeks. So in the heat of the moment sometimes you don't do it, you do what you used to do. That's just the way it is. We've got to try to make those moments in the game less and less and less and we'll win more and more.

Are you going to enjoy being back here?
What I'm going to do is enjoy being here. I enjoyed my time here, I've said this a number of times, I'm looking forward to this game being over so I don't have to talk about it anymore. I'm enjoying being the Leafs coach too. It's energizing, it's way different and it's fun. I met with Blash (Jeff Blashill) last night and he's enjoying being the Red Wings coach and he should be the Red Wings coach. He's a Michigan guy, he's done a lot to get to this opportunity, he's got a good team and he's going to have fun with that. I'm going to have fun with the Leafs.

Does it help that you were here last week?
I've said this before, the 12 days where I tried to make a decision was as much mental and gut-wrenching anguish as I've ever had in my life. I don't recommend it to anyone. Since I made that decision I sleep real good. I feel real good about the decision I made and we've moved on. It didn't feel like that last week, — I know where I lived for 10 years, I'm not dumb — in saying that, I'm the coach of the Leafs. Let's go.

How different is it starting as the coach of the Leafs from what it was as coach of the Red Wings?
I don't remember. The Red Wings, people always talk about what it came to, but the Red Wings had been a $72 million and suddenly the payroll was $38 million. We bought out a ton of players to start. It was just like here, it's a fear of the unknown, you don't know how it's going to go. Let's just focus on the process and trying to get better and that's what we're doing with Toronto.

How happy are you to see Jeff Blashill get his chance?
It's great, I remember when I hired Blash and nobody knew who he was. I knew when I met him he had been a guy who had won where he was, he was a smart guy, he presented well, taught well, he has gained lots of experience, we had a real good relationship, we talked a lot, he helped me and I think I helped him. He's a good man, he's got a good family, I enjoyed seeing his wife and kids last night when I dropped by there for a second. I wish him well every night except when he plays the Leafs.

12:00 PM: The Leafs held their morning skate at Joe

Morning skate in Detroit. #TMLtalk

A photo posted by Toronto Maple Leafs (@mapleleafs) on


10:30 AM: The Maple Leafs will open their 2015-16 road schedule on Friday night when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

The Leafs opened their season with a 3-1 loss at home to the Montreal Canadiens. Despite controlling much of the game, the Leafs couldn't solve goaltender Carey Price, outshooting the Canadiens by a 37-29 margin. James van Riemsdyk scored the lone Leafs goal while Jonathan Bernier was named the game's second star.

Tonight's game will also mark Mike Babcock's first regular season return to Detroit after 10 years as coach of the Red Wings.

The Red Wings will open their season tonight when the Leafs come to town. Detroit had the best record of Atlantic Division teams in exhibition play, going 6-0-2. They beat the Leafs on consecutive occasions to wrap up their pre-season.

Stay tuned for updates on tonight's lineup, thoughts from the players and coaches, and more.

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