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Game Journal: Game 28 - Devils vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs





4:00 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Leafs and Devils.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards
24 Holland - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
21 van Riemsdyk - 42 Bozak - 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 40 Grabner
23 Matthias - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes

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

Goaltenders
31 Sparks
30 Bibeau

New Jersey Devils

Forwards
13 Cammalleri - 14 Henrique - 20 Stempniak
48 Kennedy - 26 Elias - 21 Palmieri
18 O'Neill - 16 Josefson - 22 Tootoo
51 Kalinin - 11 Gionta - 23 Farnham

Defence
6 Greene - 5 Larsson
2 Moore - 28 Severson
7 Merrill - 8 Schlemko

Goaltenders
35 Schneider
1 Kinkaid



2:30 PM: Here's what Nazem Kadri had to say ahead of Tuesday's game between the Leafs and Devils.

Leafs TV


On his absence from Monday's practice:
There was a little bit of a concern, I felt a little bit under the weather but I just rested up and did whatever I could to feel better today and it worked.

How gratifying is it to have the game you did on Saturday night?
It's nice, like I've been saying all along I just wanted to stay with it, I didn't want to be a liability out there, I wanted to be responsible and sure enough I stuck with it and we were able to get a couple of bounces. I think that was a turning point, that's a good St. Louis team and not an easy building to play in. It's definitely a great job by us.

What have you learned about yourself as a playing under Babcock?
Just to be resilient and he obviously likes that compete and that work ethic. I've tried to step my game up in that department lately. Like I said I talk to him on a regular basis and to be the best you've got to go up against the best. I want to be a 200-foot centreman and not be a liability.

Do you play better hockey when you play agitated?
Yeah it seems to bring out the best in me. I think just in that particular game one thing led to another and we kind of just stepped our game up and didn't let them push us around. I think that's what we need to see more of, we've been doing a good job of that lately and we just have to see that on a consistent basis.

What stands out about Lou to you in your time playing for him?
He's a professional, he's a great guy, an awesome guy to talk to. He cares about not only the game but you as a person. You can't ask for more than that as your boss. Obviously he's pretty knowledgeable in the sport, he's been around forever. Like I said, I think he's going to make our team a lot better, you've just got to give him some time.



2:15 PM: Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks gets the start tonight against New Jersey. Here's what he had to say following Tuesday's skate...

Leafs TV



Has your improvement positionally been a piece-by-piece process?

I think if you look at the second half I had in Orlando last year leading into the first half I had this year, I haven't had very many games where I'm not happy with myself afterwards. I think getting that consistency and being able to have a quality start as many times as possible and get out there is important. The team feeds off how its goalie is playing. If you don't have a guy who is making saves for you it makes the game that much harder. I just try and go out there and provide a stable base for the team in front of me and let them take care of the rest.

Do you feed off the way they play in front of you too?

Definitely and going back to Orlando last year, if you have a team that competes every time they get out there and guys are doing everything they can to help you win games, it makes my job a lot easier. These guys have been rock solid in front of me and I'm sure they'll continue to be. They're doing all the right things and getting rewarded for it so hopefully we just keep going.

On the home support during his time in Orlando:
They love hockey down there and it was a big time sporting event in the city of Orlando. The Bears are a very popular team down there, we definitely had a lot of great fans and a lot of support down there and getting to play in front of a big home crowd is always a boost. I'm looking forward to that as well tonight.



2:00 PM: Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is set to play his 400th game with the Leafs. Here's what he had to say ahead of Tuesday's game...

On hitting 400 games with the Leafs:
To be honest with you I wasn't aware of it until you guys told me about it but it's something that feels good. I want to play a lot longer than this so it's special, it's a lot of games with one organization and you want to continue that.

Does it feel like you've weathered a storm here and things are moving in the right direction?
I like where our team is going. From the start of training camp this year we've really taken a lot of steps in the right direction. There's lots of work to be done but I think you can see the way that we're playing as a group, it's a real good brand of hockey. I know from just people talking to me on the outside, they like our work ethic, I think it's nice to hear when you hear that and we've got to continue to push forward and keep getting better.      

On Kadri's performance on Saturday:
I think Naz is a guy who always plays hard. He competes night in and night out and he surprises guys because not many guys know he can throw them as well as he does. I think that was just -- it was a character game by Naz. He fights a guy and gives up 40-something pounds at least, it's a big guy he fights and I think he really lifted up our team in that game. To get two goals, it was a big game for him. Good for him.



12:15 PM: Here's what Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say following Tuesday's morning skate.

Leafs TV


What has Nazem Kadri shown you to this point in the season?

Obviously he is a kid that is trying to establish himself as a good player in the League. This year because of the way the lines were set up, he drew the number one matchup group every time on the road, which makes it hard for you but you've got to fight through. When you're not that, lots of times you end up with the third group on the back end on the ice. This has been a challenge for him. I thought he had his best game since I've been here the other night in St. Louis. I thought he was competitive, I thought he inspired the team, he scored a couple of times, got to feel good about himself. The problem in life is when you set a new benchmark, that's what the coach expects every night. We've already re-visited that and you've got to keep setting new standards for yourself and you've got to work harder so you can do that each and every day. That becomes an expectation so that'll be a challenge for him to respond tonight.

Was moving van Riemsdyk to Bozak's line about balance?

We hadn't scored any goals and it's like anything. It's great to go into Minny -- we played better in Minny in my opinion than we did in St. Louis. No one would believe that but I believe it's the truth. We had quality, quality chances and gave up nothing and in the end we wound up losing that game. I think there's a fine line when you're a team like us. You can change things and hope it's going to get better. You can stay the same and say we're hey, we're right close. The reality is we hadn't scored in enough of a period of time that we felt we should change. You've got to score goals to win and, in saying that, we can get three but when the other team gets five, that's not much good to you. We're going to keep approaching it the way we are.

What was your perception of Lou Lamoriello coaching against him vs. working with him?

Well I got top know Lou pretty good in '03 when we played in the Stanley Cup final when I was in Anaheim and have a relationship with him. I enjoyed Lou a ton and then obviously when Shanny talked to me about bringing Lou here and I talked to Lou about it, I was thrilled when he decided to come. Obviously he's a good, good, good man. The perception of Lou and the reality of Lou are two different things but I think he kind of likes it that way. I enjoy being around him a lot. I've been real fortunate in my career. I had Bryan Murray who's a real good man and veteran general manager and calm and a good influence on you. I had Ken Holland and now I have Lou. You'd pay just to go to dinner with those guys let alone work with them so it's a thrill for me that Lou is here, he's a steady influence, he's really good to people and expects a lot out of people and I think that's a good thing.

Is there anything concern that Corrado will be a step behind when he gets in?

Yeah, absolutely there's a step but what we've tried to do with Harry [Scott Harrington] and tried to do it with Marty [Martin Marincin] is when we give a guy a go we try to give him a bit of a go. Frankie is going to get his go, he doesn't need you guys lobbying for him, I know he's here, he'll be fine. We'll make sure he gets in and gets playing.

Why hasn't he been playing?

We haven't used him.

Is there a fear he'll be claimed if you try to send him to the Marlies?

We're not sending him to the Marlies, we have a plan, just because we haven't shared it with you doesn't mean we don't have a plan.

Has your impression of Phaneuf changed at all since you've been here?

I had a good impression of him as a young man and then obviously things that have been said -- nobody has gone through more here than Dion has. When you're the captain of a team that doesn't win you tend to take lots of hits. I think over time, I don't care who you are or how strong mentally, how good a person you are, it starts to chip away at you. I think he's been fantastic, he's been great. He's a good, good person. He trains hard, works hard, he's demanding of our young guys, goes about doing things right, plays as hard as he can each and every night. Now, if you don't appreciate the kind of player he is, then you don't appreciate that. I can sure tell you I appreciate the kind of man he is and we're in a way better situation with him than we would be without him, just because of the tone he sets for our group. He seems to get points, he might be the highest plus-minus d-man on our team. He's done a good job.

Does this seem like a different Devils team than years past?

I like what the coach has done there. I spoke to them before the year. I like the way they play, I like the speed they play with. They have a five man unit all over. I think Palmieri has been really good for them, Stempniak has been real good for them. I like the way they play and they've got excellent, excellent goaltending I think thus far this year. That makes them a hard out. They play fast and I think they're a lot of fun to watch. I'm excited to play them tonight. It'll be good.

12:00 PM: The Toronto Maple Leafs play their lone game this week on Tuesday night when they host the New Jersey Devils at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs are coming off of a big 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Brad Boyes, P-A Parenteau had goals while Nazem Kadri had a pair of tallies and a fight in the win. Garret Sparks stopped 27 Blues shots to earn his second career victory and first win on the road. He will return to the crease tonight.

The Devils last played on Sunday when they defeated the Florida Panthers by a 4-2 score. Lee Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri scored the New Jersey goals. Cory Schneider stopped 34 shots and a penalty shot in the victory. He will get the start against the Leafs on Tuesday.

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

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