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Game Journal: Game 3 - Senators vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:30 PM: Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill get you set for tonight's game with their preview from Air Canada Centre. Tonight's game can be watched on Hockey Night in Canada, heard on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and followed on Twitter with the hashtag #TMLtalk.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs
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

2 Hunwick - 3 Phaneuf
51 Gardiner - 52 Marincin
44 Rielly - 36 Harrington

34 Reimer
45 Bernier
(Note: Coach Babcock has indicated that Roman Polak and Michael Grabner may draw into the lineup depending on the status of injuries)

Ottawa Senators
68 Hoffman - 7 Turris - 61 Stone
27 Lazar - 93 Zibanejad - 6 Ryan
16 MacArthur - 44 Pageau - 9 Michalek
90 Chiasson - 15 Smith - 25 Neil

3 Methot - 65 Karlsson
46 Wiercioch - 5 Ceci
2 Cowen - 74 Borowiecki

41 Anderson
29 O'Connor

3:15 PM: Leafs TV also caught up with James Reimer and Dion Phaneuf ahead of tonight's game. Take a look...

3:00 PM: Leafs centre Tyler Bozak offered his thoughts ahead of tonight's matchup with the Senators.

Leafs TV

Is it good to get back at it after a tough loss?
Yeah, for sure, it's nice to have a back-to-back when you don't play so well the night before. We're excited to go again tonight and hopefully we can be better and keep learning and keep getting better and come out with a win tonight.

Is improving the finish on offence a matter of slowing things down?
Yeah, I think we've been getting a few chances but we haven't been getting enough grade-A chances. I feel we gave up quite a bit last night. We've got to work harder getting to the net and getting traffic, getting rebounds and scoring some uglier goals than nice passing plays. We need to start there and go from there.

What has coach said to keep the mentality up?
It's two games into the year so you can't get down on yourself yet, we've got a lot of hockey left and we've just got to keep learning and things will come from there.

Is it tough to learn when you're going down so early and chasing the game?
Yeah, obviously you want to get the lead at any time in the game, especially early in the period. We've got to do a better job and get better starts. There's probably stats that show when you get scored on first there's a way greater chance of losing the game. We want to be the team that gets the first goal but if we don't we can't get down on ourselves and crumble, we've got to come back and play hard and try to get the next one.

Does the Toronto/Ottawa rivalry get you pumped up?
Yeah, it's fun. It's great playing these guys, they're a great hockey team, they've got a lot of speed and a lot of good players. We've got to be on our game tonight and compete and hopefully we come out with a good outcome.

Is there some patience required as far as producing chemistry with new linemates?
Yeah, it doesn't come easy. We've got a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys. I think we're trying to find the right groups and the right guys that have that chemistry together. That's going to take some time too. Hopefully we can find quicker than later but I'm sure we'll go through quite a few trios to find out what works best.

What are some positives you've seen?
I think we're getting better, we're learning the system better every day. We do a lot of good things in the games but it's just those key areas where we make a mistake and get scored on. We've just got to keep learning, keep getting better every day and it'll come.

2:30 PM: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media on Saturday morning. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

On Friday's game:
The bottom line is last night didn't go the way we wanted. We played a low event game, which is how I think we have to play, we can't give up a ton of scoring chances but the ones we did give up, they scored on. I looked up, there was 8:25 left in the second and we were down 4-0 and the shots were 11-11. You're saying to yourself, now what am I going to do? I put Reims in to give him a chance to get ready for tonight, we need a big night out of Reims and then we need to play a good game. I think when we play with structure and play five together, we don't look bad. When we don't we don't look very good and it's not much fun to watch when we don't play together and play well. The biggest thing I'm finding is when something goes wrong we dip and there's no reason to. If you do that every day life wouldn't be very good. Live in the moment, bear down and work hard on your next shift. That's it. Real simple.

How do you coach against those dips?
You talk about it. Just like I'm talking to you about it, it's the same thing. I'm not a big guy on putting my head in the sand. When something is going on I like talking about it. Just because to me I want to know where I stand so we talk about it and we prepare for tonight. Feeling sorry for yourself or getting down, that to me is a waste of energy. That could've been for a few minutes after the game but let's get regrouped and let's get on. It's Saturday night, we're playing right here in our town, let's play well.

Will there be other changes from yesterday's lineup?
Yeah, injury based there might be. I'm going to bring in Polak and I'm going to bring in Grabs but I don't know for sure because I'm waiting to find out on guys.

How does your approach change if you're up or down a goal?
Here's what I'd like to do — I'd like to keep playing. If we're up a goal or down a goal I'd like us to play the next shift. I'd like us to not get all over the map and end up down two goals. Just keep doing good things and good things happen. The great thing about hockey when you're playing on a real good team is you just stay patient. You just stay patient, you just stay patient, you just stay patient, they're going to make a mistake — capitalize. When we get our chances, and we had good ones again last night, we had good ones on Price, we haven't finished at all. Our shooting percentage I think is at 4.1 and we're not keeping them out at the same rate. We're going to have to fix that. You have more time than you think, settle down and execute and get in the scoring areas. Let's not run around the rink and get taking risks and give up more, that makes no sense to me.

Is there something you tell the guys to better finish those chances?

We talk about everything, that's what we do. You go through and you pick the theme of the day or the theme of the week and you try to make your game better. I thought we could have got to the net better last night and I thought we could have kept them away from the net better last night. To me that blue paint area, that net front area, we've got to do a better job than we did last night.

How important is it to get the start going and not fall behind?
It's huge, the League is set up pretty simple to me. If you look after 20 games and you look at the standings, it's hard to change the standings a whole bunch. The League is very, very tight and every night it's a tight, tight game normally. It's a battle and there's not much room to pick. If you don't get started on time you've got a lot of catch up. Tonight's a huge game for us. Everyone says the schedule is 82 games but I don't buy that. I think you play the game you're playing 82 different times is what I'm saying. This is the most important game of the year because this is the one we're playing. Let's play.

Is there any way to help Bernier gain confidence after the early goals?
You earn your confidence, that's what you do. When you do a good job every day and, to me, it's real simple for me. You put in the work, you do the preparation and when you get to the exam you're not in panic because you did all the preparation and you feel good about yourself. Keep doing the work, don't get soft between the ears and battle. You earn your confidence, nobody gives it to you. Same for the Maple Leafs, same for Mike Babcock, same for you.

12:00 PM: The Maple Leafs return home for the second leg of a doubleheader against the Senators in Toronto tonight.

The Leafs will look to bounce back after a tough loss in Detroit on Friday night. An early deficit put the Leafs in a hole they couldn't climb out of as they dropped a 4-0 decision at Joe Louis Arena. James Reimer will get his first start of the season on Saturday night against Ottawa.

The Senators play their second game of the season tonight. Ottawa enters the game coming off of a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Craig Anderson will get the start in goal.

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

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