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Game Journal: Game 22 - Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:15 PM:
Tonight's officials will be Graham Skilliter and Jean Hebert while Scott Cherrey and Trent Knorr will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on TSN 4, listen on Sportsnet 590 the FAN and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill check in from Air Canada Centre to get you set for tonight's game. Take a look...

3:15 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Bruins.

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

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

34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Boston Bruins
39 Beleskey - 46 Krejci - 21 Eriksson
63 Marchand - 37 Bergeron - 11 Hayes
51 Spooner - 41 Kemppainen - 14 Connolly
36 Rinaldo - 25 Talbot - 64 Randell

33 Chara - 62 Trotman
44 Seidenberg - 48 Miller
47 Krug - 54 McQuaid

40 Rask
50 Gustavsson

3:00 PM: Leafs defenceman Roman Polak is set to play his 500th career NHL game tonight. He talks about hitting the milestone below...

2:45 PM: Leafs TV caught up with Peter Holland ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

On former minor hockey teammate, Tyler Randell’s recent success with the Boston Bruins in his rookie season:
Well, I’m definitely not surprised to see him at this level. We had a really good team growing up—we played together for nine or 10 years of minor hockey. He was just a really skilled player back then and, always had a nose for the net. We played on a line together, and I just used to love giving him the puck because it always used to find a way to go in. He’s taken a little bit of a different role at this level, but, you’ve still got to be aware of him. He still makes teams [pay]. You know, you got to make sure that he’s not getting the puck around the net, because I know those flashes of brilliance come out.

How far is this team away from getting even-strength play back to where it should be?
Well, I don’t think we’re that far away from it. I think, you know, we’ve had a couple bounces that could have gone our way. I know, Grabner had a chance in Carolina there from behind the net, and Ward made a good save. And then, I think also it was Grabner the other game who hit a post. You know, Tuukka made a good save on me in the second period on the backhand there. Just as a team in general, I think we just got to stick with it, and we’re going to find our way to getting some 5-on-5 goals.

2:30 PM: Leafs defenceman Scott Harrington spoke to Leafs TV ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

On playing with Roman Polak as a defensive partner:
It’s been great. He’s been very helpful. He’s a pretty quiet guy off the ice, and he kind of brings that calming presence out there; he talks a lot and he gives me lots of tips. He’s a solid player on the ice to play with; he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He’s always in good position for you, whenever you need an out, or something like that. So, it’s been great, and I’m definitely learning a lot every game I play with him.

Is fearless an accurate descriptor of Roman Polak’s game?

Yeah, definitely. You see the way he plays out there, the way he competes in the corners and the way he blocks shots, and the job he does on the penalty-kill. You know, he’s a very valuable member of our team, and someone, that, for myself, I look to, and try to pick up as many pointers as I can.

12:45 PM: Leafs goaltender James Reimer will get the start against the Bruins on Monday night after taking the 2-0 loss on Saturday night in Boston.

Reimer has a 5-6-2 record in his career against the Bruins with a 2.36 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. This year, when playing after a day of rest between appearances, Reimer is 2-1-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

Reimer is 7-3-3 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .936 save percentage this season. Saturday's loss was his first after winning his previous five consecutive starts.

Here's what Reimer had to say ahead of tonight's game...

Is the team aware of the emerging trend of slow starts in the past few games?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, it’s not something you need to get all in a worry about, per se, but we know that you’re going to go through times in a season where, you play great and you play bad, and sometimes, you know, you don’t play well for 10 minutes of something like that, and, it’s just kind of the ebb and flow of the season. So, yeah, I think that, we’re aware of it, and I think we should have a good one tonight.

On his ability to read such a high volume of point shots accurately:
I think for me, it’s the ability of our defense to box out. You know, they’re a team that tries to get traffic, and just shoot the puck, and get bodies there and sticks. For us, you know I thought our forwards, some of the guys were playing down low, and our defense did a great job of clearing the traffic and allowing me to see the puck for most of the way. As a goalie, any goalie will tell you, you know, if you can see it, then, it makes it a lot easier.

On Brad Marchand’s game as a goaltending irritant?
He’s a really good player that, you know, obviously has the ability to kind of be a pest out there, I guess you could say. But no, I mean he’s got a lot of speed, and he’s got a good shot, and he’s got some moves. He’s a real good player, and tonight we’re definitely going to have to play him honest, because I’m sure he’ll be coming tonight.

12:15 PM: Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media on Monday. Here's what he had to say...
Leafs TV

Is a greater net presence a start to get the group going at even strength?
How about just playing in the offensive zone. That'd be a heck of a place to start. We haven't had the puck in two games. Two games in a row the other team has absolutely dominated the first period faceoff circle. We start out chasing and spend more time in D zones and spend your energy in D zone instead of the O zone. We talked a lot about that today is we've got to be better. If you waste any more than 15 seconds in your own zone then you're not getting to play in the offensive zone, period. To me we've spent too much time in our own zone chasing the puck around instead of winning faceoffs, being in the offensive zone, wearing their team out. And then offence will come from there. If you never ever play in the offensive zone it's hard to have offence.

Are the slow starts an area of concern?
No, I thought I just addressed this. Let's go again here. What I said was if you don't win any faceoffs in the first period then you don't have the puck and the other team is going to be better than you. That's just the reality. I think it's the easiest 50/50 battle in the game. Bergeron is well known to be a dominant faceoff guy so when you play against him -- and I've had good players play against him -- he makes it hard on you. You've got to get your wingers to dig in and help, but there's three other guys taking draws too. Carolina, they're a dominant faceoff team, we went in there and they were all over 55 per cent. I thought they ate us up in that situation. Who did we play three games ago? Colorado -- I don't have the answer for you in the game. But those other two games, that's my answer.

Why are you faithful to the morning skate when other teams are abandoning it?

Well we didn't practice yesterday so I like to get them up and running. I had an optional skate this year, I don't know if you remember the game, but we never touched the puck the whole game. So the way it works for me is real simple -- if you give an optional skate and the guys play their best game of the year, you get an optional skate. If they don't play, guess what you do -- you do something different. I'm with you, I think the optional skate sometimes is absolutely crazy but I'm about being prepared and if you're not prepared you better do something about it.

What does Spaling bring to the lineup?
We can use him -- we've been using Froese, if I'm not mistaken, Froese took just about all the D zone faceoffs last game. Partly because he was winning them, partly because that's his job. Spaling can do the same for us so we don't have to do that and he checks well. I don't know if Spals is playing 100 per cent. I haven't talked to Ryan yet. I'll talk to him and go from there.

Has Winnik not looked the same since he was injured?
He got the injury and hasn't been as good so the bottom line is if we're going without someone tonight and Spaling is in, he'd be out. He'll get a day to think about it and get back at 'er.

Was Kadri and van Riemsdyk getting zero shots against Boston a byproduct of back-to-backs and a really tough matchup?
Yeah, I agree with you. Good observation on your part.

What do you see from Loui Eriksson this season?

I thought Loui was a real good player playing in Dallas. He had the concussion, he wasn't the same player. It appears he's got his confidence back, he's at the net, he's playing on a good line. I think they're set up good lately. When you look at the Bruins they still have two of the best centres in hockey. So a lot of change took place there, the goalie didn't get off to the start he wanted -- they've got a dominant goaltender, they've got two of the best centres in hockey and a pretty good team. When you're a winger and you get to play with one of those two guys -- Datsyuk or Zetterberg, Yzerman or Fedorov, you've heard of some of these guys -- it makes you a better winger.

11:45 AM: The Toronto Maple Leafs renew acquaintances with the Boston Bruins tonight as the teams wrap up a home-and-home set at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs last played on Saturday night in Boston. Toronto was held scoreless by the Bruins while James Reimer took the loss. Reimer turned aside 35 shots in the effort and will return to the crease on Monday night.

The Bruins received goals from Zdeno Chara and an empty-netter from Brad Marchand to defeat the Leafs by a 2-0 score. Tuukka Rask made 22 saves to earn the win. He is expected to get the nod in goal for the Bruins tonight.

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

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