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Game Journal: Game 40 - Maple Leafs vs. Sharks

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

3:05 PM: Tonight's officials will be Dave Jackson and Tom Chmielewski. Shane Heyer and Tim Nowak will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on Hockey Night in Canada, listen on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Joe Bowen tees up tonight's game from San Jose.

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

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

45 Bernier
34 Reimer

San Jose Sharks

48 Hertl - 19 Thornton - 8 Pavelski
83 Nieto - 12 Marleau - 42 Ward
68 Karlsson - 39 Couture - 27 Donskoi
57 Wingels - 50 Tierney - 18 Brown

44 Vlasic - 61 Braun
7 Martin - 88 Burns
4 Dillon - 74 DeMelo

31 Jones
32 Stalock

2:50 PM:
Here's what Jake Gardiner had to say ahead of tonight's game...

Leafs TV
On getting off to a better start:

Reims played great for us [in LA], we didn't get much offence going and obviously they're a hard team to play against. Starting tonight we obviously need to have a good start and hopefully capitalize on our chances.

How successful has the trip been so far?

I think it has been good. It kind of depends on tonight, I guess. If we win tonight it'll be a good trip and if we lose it's not so good. I think we've played well and made some good strides. Like I said, LA is a really good team and a tough team to beat.

What do you need to do to get the shot totals down?

It starts with good offence. Cycling the puck down low and the more time we spend down there the less shots we're going to have against obviously and just breaking the puck out quickly.

Do you think the communication is good when you don't have the puck?

Communication is huge, I think everyone is pretty comfortable with each other by now. Obviously we had some new faces at the start of the year but I think we're pretty comfortable with that, we're talking to our goalie a lot and obviously our linemates. It's key.

2:35 PM: P-A Parenteau offered his thoughts ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV
What's the key to getting off to a strong start?

It's a big game for us. We're going to have to be ready off the get-go. They're a strong team, a fast team, kind of like the last two teams we faced on this trip. The start is definitely an important thing tonight.

What did you notice the last time you faced them?

They can move. They can move the puck too. They've got Brent Burns back there who's really good. Obviously Marleau, Thornton, these guys are proven all-star NHLers. It's going to be a tough test for us but I think we're up to it. We've been playing some really good hockey lately and there's no reason not to keep it going.

Do you think two wins in three games would make it a successful trip?

Yeah, for sure. You go 1-2 and it's not a successful trip, you go 2-1 and it's a great trip in California. We're well aware of that and we're going to do our best to win tonight.

What's the key to your increased production lately?

I think I'm feeling good about my game. I never try to judge how good I play by my production but it's always nice to get some breaks and get some goals and get on the scoresheet. I think the team is playing really well and we're trying to get some wins. That's what we're trying to do at the end of the day.

Is the balanced scoring a sign of good communication from the coaches and defence?

I think so. In this day and age if you want to win you've got to get scoring throughout your lineup. We've been doing that lately and that's why we're getting some results. We've been getting great goaltending as well too so we've got to keep going. We've got a lot of guys that are feeling confident with the puck and hopefully we can keep it going.

2:15 PM: Here's what Mike Babcock had to say ahead of Saturday's game...

Leafs TV

On Saturday's game:

San Jose is always a tough building in the first 10 minutes. You've got to be prepared to go on time. We didn't practice yesterday, we didn't skate this morning so we better have a good warmup so we're ready.

How important is getting the first goal?

Well we'd like to start on time. Last time they were up 2-0, I think they were power play goals back-to-back if I'm not mistaken, I know they got one for sure right away and we were in trouble. We've got to start on time for sure. It's a huge priority each and every night. You want to get going.

How many strides have you taken to get where you want to be?

I can't comment on what has gone on in the past, I don't know much about it to be honest with you. I think we've tried to get better each and every day, I think we have gotten better, I think we're competing harder, we're more organized. That doesn't mean we'll win every night but we look like a team that has a chance. That's what we want to do is we want to keep building. As you know, in life you earn your own confidence by doing good things and we've been better lately so you feel better about yourself.

Do you think there is more calm with your goaltending situation?

I think obviously for Bernie who struggled early, he's got to feel good about himself. It's amazing in life when you're confident and feel good about yourself how everyone else is confident in you too. That's a positive obviously. Reims struggled early, got going real good and was hurt so long it was good to see him bounce back the other night and play. Every team in the League is better with good goaltending and what you'd like to have is a guy you can put in the net every night and you never ever worry about it. The teams that have that have a lot of success.

2:00 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Saturday when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

The Leafs last played on Thursday night when they took on the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center and lost by a 2-1 score. Peter Holland had the lone Leafs goal while James Reimer turned aside 39 shots in the loss. It'll be Jonathan Bernier in goal tonight for the Leafs as Mike Babcock confirmed earlier this week.

The Sharks come in to tonight's game having struggled at home this season, most recently in a 2-1 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Joel Ward had the lone Sharks goal while Martin Jones made 23 saves in the loss. Jones will get the start for the Sharks against the Maple Leafs.

San Jose defeated the Leafs in the one matchup between the two clubs this season, a 5-4 overtime game in Toronto. Brent Burns had the game winning goal on a ricocheted shot that found its way past Jonathan Bernier, who came into the game in relief of the injured Garret Sparks.

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

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