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Game Journal: Game 45 - Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs



4:45 PM: Tonight's officials will be Garrett Rank and Eric Furlatt. Greg Devorski and Brad Kovachik will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in to tonight's game can watch on Sportsnet, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill tee up tonight's game at Air Canada Centre below.

4:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards
40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
23 Matthias - 42 Bozak - 15 Parenteau
19 Lupul - 24 Holland - 28 Boyes
26 Winnik - 56 Froese - 25 Clune

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

Goaltenders
34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Carolina Hurricanes


Forwards
32 Versteeg - 12 Staal - 16 Lindholm
42 Nordstrom - 11 Staal - 15 Nestrasil
53 Skinner - 49 Rask - 34 Di Giuseppe
14 Gerbe - 18 McClement - 20 Nash

Defence
65 Hainsey - 27 Faulk
26 Liles - 74 Slavin
5 Hanifin - 47 Jordan

Goaltenders
31 Lack
40 Altshuller




4:00 PM:
Morgan Rielly spoke to Leafs TV ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV


How subtle a difference is it when you get a green light and jump into the play?

You've got to read the play, you've got to choose your spots wisely. You can't put your team at a disadvantage. You have to make sure you're making the right choice. You've got to jump up there and try to make plays when you can but you have to be careful. I've been fortunate and it's just a matter of making the right decision.

On defenders jumping into the rush sparking offence in Philadelphia:

I think so, the D are trying to contribute. Roman getting a goal and obviously Hunny getting a huge one makes a difference in the game. As D-men we like to jump up when we get a chance but not risk it too much.

On Hunwick's goal:

That was a great shot, he works on that all the time. It paid off that night for sure, we got a good bounce but it's all about getting the puck to the net.

What did you see on the play that led to the Flyers tying goal two nights ago?

A play that I want back if I can do it again, I'd just put the puck on net. He made a good read and it was a good goal for him.

Did Mike say anything to you after that goal or do you know?

I know.

Were Roman and Matt angling for power play time after last game?

Yeah, maybe, who knows. They're playing well. It was a great goal by Roman and, like I said, a huge goal by Hunny. We're just trying to do our job and help the team win games. We've been lucky a couple of times to be able to put the puck in the net.




3:20 PM:
James Reimer gets the start on Thursday night. In 11 career games against the Hurricanes he has a 5-3-1 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV


Has your consistency been a source of pride for you? What's been the key to that?

I think I've said it a few times but I think just the way we play, we play more consistently this year night-in and night-out, just the way we play defensively and with our structure. Obviously there's times where we don't have our best but that happens to everybody. I think overall the team has played really well and for a goaltender it makes your job a little easier.

On giving the team a chance early in Philadelphia:

Whether it's the first 10 minutes or the last 10 minutes you want to be ready and you want to be there for your teammates. You take pride -- it's a team sport, right? Sometimes you're not going and they score goals for you and sometimes they're not going and you try to keep the other team from scoring. You just want to do your part. For me it was the first 10 minutes of the game.

As a veteran are you more aware of puck luck?

Yeah, bounces are bounces. Sometimes they happen with -- what was it? 40 seconds left? Sometimes it happens with seven seconds left. Sometimes it happens 13 seconds into the game. It's just a matter of keep playing your game, keep playing your game and you never know. It's a sport. Crazy things can happen and you try to play as consistent as you can and eventually you'll get the bounces.

The pendulum swings both ways for bounces, doesn't it?

Yeah, sometimes you think it happens against you more than it does for you, but definitely. It definitely swings both ways. Obviously we've had a couple of last-second losses per se. It was good to have one go for us.



2:15 PM: Here's what Mike Babcock had to say following Thursday's morning skate...

Leafs TV

Do you appreciate what Brad Boyes has gone through to reach 800 games?

Oh, 100 per cent. He can tell you all that, but 800 is special and I think -- was he drafted by the Leafs? And he played on multiple teams and he's still ticking and still playing. He had no contract this summer and he's still playing in the NHL. So, good for him and obviously it says a lot about his determination. I mean, obviously his skillset, but you don't get there on that alone. He should be proud and his family should be proud, it's hard to do.

How do you feel about the coach's challenge at this stage of the season?

Well I don't have a bunch of feelings about it, someone put it in so we try to take advantage of it. This would be my question today: in the last three games the other team had two goals called back for offsides and we had one called back for offside. If all three of those goals had counted, would it have made any difference in the game? I mean, it might have in the score, but -- I don't know if we made it better or worse or different, I don't know. The other thing is, does the League tell the linesmen, "Do your very best but don't be worried if you miss one." So, let's not be calling ones that aren't offside, offside. You know what I'm saying to you? What scares me know is anything within a mile is going to be called offside. I'm not trying to be disrespectful of those guys, those guys are proud of their job and they're trying to do it right, but every time you make a decision it goes up on the big screen and we evaluate whether you did it right or not. I don't know.

Do you find it takes the flow out of the game?

No.

How do you feel Morgan is adjusting to a bigger role this year?

I think he really likes it. Obviously he has work to do on his game, he's a kid. He is a great skater, he's a great competitor, he's still got to improve a lot in the D zone but he's getting better and he's shutting down more plays. At the same time, we've got to get him to be better offensively. When to go, when not to go, make sure you know where to go with the puck before you get it, all those things. He's just like all kids, trying to get better. He's one of those guys that you like to have on your team and he's going to be a big part of the future of our club.

What's the biggest challenge for him to become a number one defenceman?

I just think learning the game and learning the players you're playing against and learning when to go and not drift and how to box out. When to make a play and when to go off the glass and how not to turn it over. All those things. Lots of great players we all like. We like them all on the other team because all we see is the good things we do, but all their coach sees is all the turnovers they make and all the times they get caught on the wrong side and all the bad sortouts. That's just hockey.

Could you talk about Tim Horton, Dave Keon and Turk Broda and how the Leafs are honouring them?

[I don't remember them] in that way, but obviously I know who they are and I think it's important that you honour the people that have been in your franchise. I think one of the special, special things about Original Six franchises is you have a lot of history and there was a lot of success years ago with the Leafs and those guys should be rewarded for what they did. Obviously most of us celebrate Tim Horton every day so we don't have to worry about him as much, but I think the other guys -- it's important. I just know how special it's been when they've honoured the guys, how special it is to be a part of it. To hear them talk, to hear their families speak, they are obviously very appreciate and were very appreciate of what they've done. We try to have the guys down -- Darryl Sittler was in our room this morning, Wendel is around all the time. Anyone who has been determined at the level those guys have and brought the success to the city and the organization, it's great they're being honoured.

Do you sense a more confident Shawn Matthias of late?

I think he's playing better. Obviously he's getting more opportunity and he's doing good things. I just talked to Matty, Matty just has to be Matty. Play a simple game, be hard, be heavy on the puck down low and don't get doing too much. Just do what you do, do it really well and be who you are. The more he does that, the better player he is for us.

On Matthias wanting the puck more:

Well, okay, I want him to give it to Parenteau and Bozak, how's that? Maybe there's a disconnect there. No, I'm saying is, when you get it though, you're more likely to make the right play to get it back to them and turn it over. When you're nervous with the puck, you're nervous with your job, you're unsure of yourself. It slows you down. When you're confident in what you're doing and feel like you should have the puck, you make better plays. Simple.

2:00 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action at Air Canada Centre on Thursday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Leafs are coming off a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. Matt Hunwick beat the buzzer and scored the game-winner with 7.5 seconds remaining in the game. Joffrey Lupul and Roman Polak had the other goals for the Leafs, while James Reimer stopped 31 shots to earn the victory. He returns to the crease on Thursday against Carolina.

The Hurricanes have been off since Sunday when they took a 5-0 loss in Pittsburgh to the Penguins. Eddie Lack stopped 27 shots in the loss and will start in Toronto.

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

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