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Game Journal: Game 39 - Maple Leafs vs. Kings

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:00 PM: Tonight's officials are Kelly Sutherland and TJ Luxmore. Kiel Murchison and Jay Sharrers will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune into the game can watch on Sportsnet Ontario, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter. 

To get you set for tonight's game with the Kings, Danielle Emanuele and Joe Bowen check in from LA with their Maple Leafs Game Preview.

3:45 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Kings.

Toronto Maple Leafs

40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
21 van Riemsdyk - 42 Bozak - 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik - 33 Arcobello - 19 Lupul
23 Matthias - 24 Holland - 28 Boyes

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

34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Los Angeles Kings

17 Lucic - 11 Kopitar - 73 Toffoli
70 Pearson - 77 Carter - 12 Gaborik
74 King - 22 Lewis - 23 Brown
15 Andreoff - 21 Shore - 71 Nolan

3 McNabb - 8 Doughty
6 Muzzin - 27 Martinez
5 McBain - 10 Ehrhoff

32 Quick
1 Enroth

3:30 PM: James Reimer gets the start vs. the Kings tonight. In four career games -- three of which are starts -- against Los Angeles, Reimer has posted a 3-0-1 record with a 1.83 goals-against average and .950 save percentage.

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

Leafs TV

How are you feeling?

I feel good. I feel good, I feel ready to go. Who knows what's going to transpire throughout the game and whatnot but obviously we've done what we can to prepare and I feel good to go.

What's the biggest challenge coming off a long layoff?

I think it's just breaking the game down into small increments. You've got to take it slowly and just kind of in small segments. It's been a while since you've played so you've just got to focus on little things.

Do you have to balance angst and excitement tonight?

Not too much, no. I feel good to go. It's not really on my mind at all. I think we've done taking the proper steps and I feel good to go.

3:20 PM: Nazem Kadri spoke to the media in LA. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

Did you think this system would provide the opportunity for balanced scoring the way it has?

Yeah, it's nice for everyone to contribute. That's what we need in order to be successful is everybody scoring, everybody on the same page. That seemed to be something everyone was worried about. I think our structure definitely results in good defence and leads to offensive opportunities.

On the team chemistry:

That's just the whole trust factor. Everyone believes in each other and understands you can't let the guy beside you down. I think that really is influential with our group and just going as hard as you can for the guy beside you because you don't want to let anyone down.

3:10 PM: Here's what James van Riemsdyk had to say ahead of Thursday's game...

Leafs TV

How well is this offence playing?

It has been good, the puck has been going in for us lately and obviously we want to ride that out as long as we can. Guys are playing with some confidence. We've got to keep that rolling.

Does it make it better that it's balanced scoring?

Definitely, that makes you harder to beat. If you look at the teams that win and are in the playoffs and making deep runs, they have balanced scoring throughout the lineup and you need that to be successful.

Did you think you guys would have this type of opportunity?

If you look at the ice time among the forwards, it's pretty balanced throughout the four from the top to the bottom of that as far as different minutes guys are getting. That gives guys more opportunities to get more involved and have more of an impact on the game. Guys are taking advantage of the ice time they've been getting.

Are there things you notice if a goalie is playing with more confidence than less confidence?

It's something you get a feel for but you can tell with where the puck goes after it hits him. If they're controlling their rebounds and if there are no rebounds like Bernie right now. He seems to be in that kind of zone where he's seeing the puck really well and reading the game really well.

How much more fun is coming to the rink when you're playing well?

Definitely, it's always like that. When you're winning games, life is good. It's more fun to come to the rink and, again, we've always had a group where we've liked being around each other and I think that helps us get through the bad times and be able to bounce back. It's always more fun when you're winning.

3:00 PM: Here's what Tyler Bozak had to say on Thursday in Los Angeles...

Leafs TV

What have you seen from this offence in the last month?

I think we're all buying into the system, playing well. The D are doing a good job moving the puck up, getting their shots through. Most importantly, guys are confident and we've been winning games so I think that's a big thing.

On the chemistry within the lines:

Yeah, I think we're starting to find a lot of chemistry throughout the lineup, which is something that's obviously not going to happen right off the bat. Lots of guys are playing well, guys are stepping up and we're getting scoring from everyone.

On the potential for multiple 20 goal players:

It's early, it's hard to say. It's a tough league, it's tough to get 20. Hopefully if you can have that many guys get 20 you're going to have a pretty successful year. Hopefully we can stay consistent, stay confident and keep things rolling.

How much more fun is every day life when you're winning games?

It's way better. It's a lot more fun going to the rink after a win than after a loss for sure. I think our last 10 we've put together quite a few good games and we've got two big ones coming up on this trip. It'd be nice to get both of those.

2:45 PM: Mike Babcock spoke to the media today in Los Angeles ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

What's the goaltending situation tonight?

Reims is going.

Are you anxious about it given the tightness he's had?

I'm not anxious about it. When did he say tightness? When was that, in Pittsburgh? How many days ago was that? Let's just get on with it. Bibeau will stay. If he gets tight, Bibeau will be ready to back up the next game. Eventually you've got to get playing. The ball is in his court right here. Bernie will start in San Jose.

How much is Bernier seeing the puck him and how much is the guys in front of him?

I think it's him. The guys did a good job but in saying that Bernie has gone from a point where he wasn't going good, he was deep, playing small. To now, he's out and playing big and confident. All of us go through some tough times in our life. If you dig in and you get competing and working hard you find your way out. You've got to give the kid tons of credit because he's got his game back and obviously that's a big help to us.

How many games do you need to see to say he has his game back?

I don't know. When he starts acting like he's confident -- I've said this before, when he acts like he's confident, I'm confident. When he acts like he's not, I'm not.

Does it feel like this group is having fun and enjoying playing hockey?

Yeah, I think they think they have an opportunity. I think the guys have told me when they walk around Toronto they enjoy it. It's a great city with a great fanbase that wants a great team. I'm not trying to pretend we're there by any means but we're a team that appears to be getting better and we'd like to keep getting better.

What do you attribute to the balanced scoring?

I don't know. Just work hard and play well without the puck and pretty soon you have the puck a lot and you score more.

2:30 PM: The Maple Leafs play the second leg of a California back-to-back on Thursday night when they visit the Los Angeles Kings.

The Leafs head to STAPLES Center following a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. Nazem Kadri and Brad Boyes each scored a goal while P-A Parenteau added a pair in the win. Jonathan Bernier made 39 saves to preserve the shutout victory. James Reimer will get the start tonight against the Kings. Tonight will mark his first start since Dec. 3 in Minnesota. He appeared in relief of Bernier on Dec. 29 against the Islanders.

The Kings last played on Jan. 4 in Denver where they took a 4-1 loss to the Avalanche. Tyler Toffoli scored the lone Kings goal while Jhonas Enroth stopped 29 shots in the loss. Jonathan Quick is expected to start for the Kings against the Maple Leafs.

In their lone matchup this season, the Leafs defeated the Kings by a 5-0 score at Air Canada Centre.

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

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