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Game Journal: Game 41 - Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:00 PM: Tonight's officials will be Dean Morton and Marc Joannette. David Brisebois and Mark Shewchyk will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on Sportsnet, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

In the meantime, Paul Hendrick gets you set for puck drop with his Maple Leafs Game Preview.

3:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets.

Toronto Maple Leafs

40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
23 Matthias - 42 Bozak - 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik - 24 Holland - 19 Lupul
32 Leivo - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes

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

34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Columbus Blue Jackets

43 Hartnell - 41 Wennberg - 20 Saad
38 Jenner - 25 Karlsson - 13 Atkinson
21 Rychel - 17 Dubinsky - 34 Anderson
18 Bourque - 9 Campbell - 40 Boll

27 Murray - 3 Jones
7 Johnson - 58 Savard
51 Tyutin - 44 Falk

70 Korpisalo
31 Forsberg

2:30 PM:
Here's what Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf had to say ahead of tonight's game...

Leafs TV

How important is it getting back to structure after last Saturday's game?

We've definitely got to move forward from that. Nobody was happy with the way that we played there and today is a new day. We've had a couple of practice days to get back to the way we know we can play and tonight is a bounce back game for us. We've got to come out, we've got to build on the way we were playing before that game. If you break down a season and you look at the way things go, not every game is going to go good and not every game is going to go the way you want it. It's how you respond to it and I think that we're ready to come back here. It's been a good couple of days for us at home, we're excited to play in front of our fans and get back to playing the way we're capable of playing.

What about Mike's system helps you bounce back quickly?

I don't think it comes down to the system, I think it's about us wanting to bounce back. It's no fun when you get beat the way we got beat and we've sat with that for a few days. We've got to bounce back and we've got to respond and play the right way.

2:10 PM:
Byron Froese returned to the lineup on Saturday. Here's what he had to say ahead of Wednesday's game vs. Columbus...

How'd it feel getting back out on Saturday?

It definitely wasn't the result we wanted but I felt good being back on the ice, being back with the group and trying to contribute every way you can.

What has gone right for the penalty kill and what's the key to keep things going?

It's just work ethic. You've got to outwork the power play if you want to kill penalties and I think we've been doing that in the last stretch. We've got to keep with that. Obviously the structure is huge and we've all got to be on the same page but I think another thing we can better at is communication -- making sure we're always talking whenever there's pucks, whenever there's battles. Making sure you're talking and letting each other know where you are and where to go.

On Columbus:

I've never played against them so it'll be new for me. It's going to be like any team. They're going to come hard, they're going to come fast and we've just got to match and play our game, worry about our game and we'll be fine.

Nice to have another familiar face with Leivo up?

Yeah, for sure. It's going to be fun playing with him. He's a really skilled player, a really fast player. I'm excited to get back with him.

2:00 PM: James Reimer is slated to get the start on Wednesday, his first since taking on the Kings in Los Angeles. Here's what he had to say after the morning skate...

Leafs TV

How important was the time getting ready for tonight after playing last week?

It's good, it's nice to have a game under your belt to have something to fall back on. It's something to kind of get you going. I'm excited about this one and hopefully we can put together a good game as a team and get back on the winning side of things.

What's the hardest thing to come back after a long layoff?

I think a little bit of everything. It's just moving with the speed of the game. Everything happens pretty quick. In practice you work on things and it's as game-like as it can be but it doesn't have quite that speed or the weird bounces or bad bounces off a stick or a skate and it goes back to this guy so you've got to be on your toes. That's the only thing that was the hardest coming back was those little bounces that you can't control.

On dealing with a net-front player like Scott Hartnell:

He likes to get to the paint and he likes to be in your face, but it's fun. It brings out the best in you. You get up for games when you're playing against people like that because you want to be on top of things and make sure you can shut him down. He's a real good player and he has a real good shot. Hopefully we can have the answers tonight.

1:50 PM: Shawn Matthias spoke to the media on Wednesday ahead of Leafs vs. Blue Jackets. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

On playing with Bozak and Parenteau:

They're good players. They make plays, they've got a lot of skill. They've been hot lately -- Bozie was third star of the week that one week and P-A has been having a great year too. I want to come in and help them, I know they're going to help me. We had some chemistry when we played those 18 games together so I'm looking forward to hopefully being better than I was last time I played with them. I feel good, I feel confident and I'm excited.

Do you see this as an opportunity to kickstart your season offensively?

Sure, yeah. You've got to accept any role you're given and I thought playing with Boyes and Froese, we were doing a good job with the role we were given. We were playing in their end, we had good possession numbers, we were rolling around in the corners and making it hard for defencemen. Now it's going to be different again but I think for myself I've just got to play the same style I've been playing. Getting in on the forecheck, winning puck battles, being hard and heavy down low and getting to the front of the net.

Coming off an 18 goal season has it been frustrating not scoring as often?

Yeah, you obviously want to score goals. This year is a little different. I think I've done a better job passing, I've already got as many assists as I had last season. You guys can writes the stories and say about the goals or whatever but I feel like I've been playing better as of late. The beginning of the season was tough on everyone but I think the whole team has been better of late. We've been more offensive the last couple of months and things are turning around. We're right there, we're fighting for a playoff spot, we've got to win every night because we need points right now. There's a lot more important things than worrying about my goal scoring. The team comes first and as long as we're winning I couldn't care less about who gets the credit or who gets the goals. There's no time to be worrying about myself.

1:40 PM: Here's what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say head of Wednesday's game at Air Canada Centre...

Leafs TV

What type of opportunity is this for Shawn Matthias to kick start his offence?

Obviously a real good one, Bozak and Parenteau are playing well. Someone is going to get the opportunity. I'm just going to watch and he's getting the first shot at it. Good for him, let's get him going real well so it'll be good for us too. It's important, we need some offence. James is a guy who scores and helps people score. It's going to be more of a challenge but I think it's a good one. We'll find out who the players are.

When you talk to players about how their roles change are you very specific and direct with them?

Yeah, I think I'm pretty direct... I don't know what you're like in your job but if my boss thinks I'm not doing a good job and he tells me what to do, I can fix it and I want to please him. I think players are the same. They want to know. I don't think you've got to be belligerent about it in any way, you've just got to tell them what you want and I think they've got a better chance to please you and please themselves. Every player I've ever coached wants to play more. They just want to do well. Give them a plan to do well and get it out of the way.

Anything stand out to you about the power play?

It doesn't score enough. The bottom line is we thought -- I don't know if it was the LA game, I think it was the LA game -- we thought our power play was fantastic and it didn't get much done. In saying all that, sometimes you score and you haven't done anything and sometimes you don't score. What I find over time is just keep on doing good things and good things will happen. Win the opening faceoff, that's a heck of a start. You don't have to break out. If you can execute if they put it down on the breakout, that's a good start. After you shoot it, if you can get it back, that's not bad. Those are some things we could work on.

1:30 PM: The Maple Leafs return to Air Canada Centre on Wednesday where they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Leafs will look to rebound after being beaten in San Jose by a 7-0 score. Jonathan Bernier took the loss for the Leafs against the Sharks following a shutout performance in Anaheim. James Reimer will get the start for the Leafs tonight. He last started this past Thursday in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Blue Jackets play the second leg of a back-to-back tonight in Toronto after playing Tuesday night in Brooklyn. The Islanders defeated the Blue Jackets by a 5-2 score. Columbus got goals from William Karlsson and David Savard in the loss, while Anton Forsberg made 28 saves. Joonas Korpisalo is expected to get the start in Toronto.

In the lone matchup between the teams this season, the Leafs took a 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Leo Komarov scored a pair of goals for the Leafs, while Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul added single tallies. James Reimer earned the win.

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

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