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Game Journal: Game 52 - Maple Leafs vs. Flames

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

6:30 PM: Tonight's officials will be Gord Dwyer and Kendrick Nicholson. Steve Barton and Ryan Gibbons will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on Sportsnet Ontario, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Joe Bowen check in from Calgary to set the table for tonight's game.

6:00 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Flames.

Toronto Maple Leafs

40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
24 Holland - 33 Arcobello - 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 32 Leivo
25 Clune - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes

2 Hunwick - 44 Rielly
51 Gardiner - 46 Polak
52 Marincin - 20 Corrado

34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Calgary Flames

13 Gaudreau - 23 Monahan - 24 Hudler
93 Bennett - 11 Backlund - 67 Frolik
79 Ferland - 16 Jooris - 19 Jones
52 Bollig - 18 Stajan - 17 Bouma

5 Giordano - 7 Brodie
4 Russell - 27 Hamilton
15 Smid - 29 Engelland

1 Hiller
31 Ramo

5:45 PM: James Reimer gets the start in Calgary tonight. Here's what he had to say ahead of the game...

Leafs TV

On the trade:

Life goes on. It's disappointing, obviously he's a big part of our team and carried a lot of the weight for the franchise for the last couple of years so it's tough to see him go, but it's an opportunity. It's an opportunity for us to fill the void and get going. When anything -- injuries happen or guys get traded, it gives opportunity for other people so now it's our job to step up and do our part.

How challenging is this for the defence to regroup and keep things together?

Like I said, Dion is a big part of it but having said that, we have a plan that we can cycle anybody in there. The plan doesn't change now that he's gone. We all know what we have to do, we all know our assignments and our expectations and it's our job to step up and make sure we keep each other accountable.

Is it tougher to focus and get ready for the game?

I don't know, it's maybe a little bit of both -- not to give a politically correct answer, but it's human nature. You lose a friend, it's hard, it's sad. But at the same time there's a little different energy in the air of you've got something to prove. Obviously things are going to be happening this month and everybody to a man has something to prove about what they're worth and what they can bring. This kind of brings it to the forefront of making you think that you've really got to show what you can do and prove to management that you can play. There's a little bit of that -- I don't want to say excitement because that's not the right word -- but it's just that oomph that you've got to do what you can do.

What can Calgary bring with their transition game?

They're a skilled team and they've got a lot of speed. They can make plays if you give them time. Our plan is just to play well defensively, stick to the structure that's giving us success for most of the year here and hopefully we can shut them down. They've got, like you said, some real skilled forwards and hopefully we can do our part.

5:30 PM: Morgan Rielly speaks to the media ahead of tonight's game in Calgary...

Leafs TV

On the trade:

Yeah I think as a group we were pretty surprised by it. Whenever a trade like that happens you don't really expect it. We, as a group -- it's tough but we've got to worry about this road trip. We've got to play tonight. We've got a couple more big games coming up. We've got to refocus and worry about what happens on the ice. He was a big part of this group and it hurts to lose him but we've got guys in this room that can increase their roles and really step up.

Who is going to be the guy who steps up in the interim?

It's a group effort. I don't think there's going to be any one guy who takes Dion's role. I think as a group we have to step up. We're going to have to take on leadership roles and we're also going to have to make up for his loss on the ice. He's a big part of this team, one of the most vocal guys. There's guys in here that are going to have to take leadership roles and step up. We're capable of doing that but time will tell.

How has Phaneuf helped you in your growth?

Dion was one of those guys that really felt comfortable and I think he does that with the young guys really well. He taught us all a lot. Just watching him every day I think you learn a lot from his actions and I think that moving forward, we've all learned a lot from him that we can use. When you lose a guy like that there are guys in this room that are going to have to step up and take leadership roles like I said and I think we're capable of doing that.

Does the business side shock you or is this part of the development process?

It's just part of the business. As players you have to accept it, trades are going to happen. You might lose some friends to trades and whatnot but you've got to deal with it. It's all part of the job. We have to move on, start worry about playing tonight. This is part of the game.

5:15 PM: Here's what Mike Babcock had to say on Tuesday morning in Calgary...

Leafs TV

On Tuesday's trade:

Dion was our leader and a real good, good man. I've only had a short time to work with him besides Olympic experiences in the summers but a real good person, did it right every day, really tried to be a huge influence on our team. The problem for us is Dion is ready now to win and we're not ready to win. It was a hard decision. I think it's a good decision for Dion, not today, but tomorrow. And it's a good decision for our club moving ahead and following the plan that we've had in place since it started.

On Cowen:

He was a player that had it going in the right direction, got hurt, hasn't got it back. We feel we have a real good medical team, a real good medical science group. We'll take a look at him obviously physically and do what we can to help him get his game back.

Is this a tough day for the players?

Absolutely it is. Dion is -- someone's got to step up now. Someone's got to step up in the room and provide the leadership he provided and I can't emphasize this enough, he did it right every single day. He did it right when he wasn't at the rink, he did it right at the rink, he did right it in the weight room, he did it right with the coaches, he did it right with his teammates. That's not easy to do. That's what you need on good teams to have success. We've talked about that as a group already. It's a hard, hard business at times. It's an unbelievably great business but it's a hard business.

On managing the last 31 games:

I don't think like that. We've got a game tonight against Calgary and we plan on winning.

On the extra bodies coming into the lineup with the trade:

We've got a game tonight, we plan on winning and we'll work that all out. When they show up, they show up. We'll go from there.

Will any of them show up for tonight's game?


On DJ Smith's connection to Lindberg:

He [Smith] better be right, eh? A little heat on him never hurt anybody... Hunts [Mark Hunter] knows him real good too -- the second round pick and this kid as well, also getting us in a position as we improve as a team to be in a better cap situation.

On the captaincy:

Lou and I talked about that this morning, that [there won't be a captain for the rest of the season] is what I said. We'll have some more assistants and we'll encourage guys to step up. We're a work in progress as you know. We'll go the course with the captaincy.

Will there be another full-time alternate captain?

Yeah, but you know what I'll do? Bozak is injured and so on this trip we have Polie [Roman Polak] and Leo. They're good men who do it right so Hunny [Matt Hunwick], the three of those guys do it right every day and they set a good example. Someone is going to have to be a little more vocal than they were in the past.

5:00 PM: The Maple Leafs are back at it on Tuesday night when they visit the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The Leafs last played on Feb. 6 when they took a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. P-A Parenteau had the lone Leafs goal in the loss while James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier combined to stop 19 of 25 stops in the loss. Reimer will get the nod for the Leafs in Calgary.

The Flames are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Michael Frolik, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett scored for Calgary in the victory. Jonas Hiller stopped 34 of 35 shots in the win and will start against the Leafs on Tuesday.

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

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