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Game Journal: Game 56 - Rangers vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

2:00 PM: Tonight's referees will be Chris Rooney and Eric Furlatt. Scott Cherrey and Scott Driscoll will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on TSN 4, listen on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick gets you set for tonight's game with his Maple Leafs Game Preview.

1:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Rangers.

Toronto Maple Leafs


40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov

38 Greening - 33 Arcobello - 15 Parenteau

24 Holland - 16 Spaling - 26 Winnik

25 Clune - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes


2 Hunwick - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 46 Polak

52 Marincin - 20 Corrado


45 Bernier

34 Reimer

New York Rangers


20 Kreider - 21 Stepan - 36 Zuccarello

10 Miller - 16 Brassard - 19 Fast

24 Lindberg - 13 Hayes - 25 Stalberg

15 Glass - 28 Moore - 12 Paille


27 McDonagh - 5 Girardi

18 Staal - 8 Klein

93 Yandle - 6 McIlrath


32 Raanta

30 Lundqvist

1:00 PM:
Viktor Loov was recalled by the Maple Leafs on an emergency basis on Thursday morning. He'll suit up for the Leafs if Matt Hunwick is unable to play. Here's what Loov had to say about the opportunity...

Leafs TV

When did you get the call?

Yesterday, I got the call yesterday. It feels good. I don't know if I'm going to play yet but at least I'm here. It's a small step.

How important has the American League been in making those small steps?

A lot, as I've said a lot of times before, it's a completely new game compared to what I played back in Sweden. I had to make a lot of changes in my game positionally. I like to skate but you can't skate that much over here.

How ready do you feel if the opportunity comes tonight?

It depends, we'll see how it goes. You never know the result before you've done it. I feel that I'm in good shape so hopefully it's enough.

How important has the winning environment been for you with the Marlies?

You get some space to work out and work on everything because you're on a winning team, it's not a lot of stress, you get a bit more comfortable and stuff. You're not stressed out that much.

12:30 PM:
Here's what Frank Corrado had to say following Thursday's morning skate ahead of tonight's tilt between the Leafs and Rangers...

Is your confidence in your game at a high with the opportunities you've had recently?

I try not to look at it that way, I just try to take it day-by-day but playing more obviously gets you in a bit more of a groove and you can be yourself more out there. It's all I'm looking to do is play with some poise, make good plays with the puck and obviously be a strong defensive player. That's the way I look at it.

Has the switch back to the right side helped your game?

It's always easier to play on your natural side so that's been nice. It makes things a little easier out there. I can play either side I think but it's definitely easier to play the right side.

On lateral movement along the blueline as a catalyst to his offensive game:

It depends on if I can get pucks through and if we can bang away at the net. Those are, I think, things that can help the team. If we can get bodies to the net and obviously if I can get pucks through, that helps. It's just one of those parts of my game that I try to keep working on and something I try and do every game.

Is it nice to be back home?

It's going to be great, yeah. I was looking forward to this for a while. Just coming back, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, I'm sure the fans are happy to have us back. It's an exciting night for us to get back at it here.

12:15 PM:
Colin Greening gets set to play his first game in Toronto as a member of the Maple Leafs. Here's what he had to say following morning skate...

Are the similarities between playing for Paul MacLean and Mike Babcock as prevalent as you thought when you first arrived?

Yeah, he pushes the pace, he really focuses on skating and good defensive structure. I guess you could say a lot of coaches are like that but the way that they employ and the way they communicate, I find that they're very similar coaches. I'd say it was pretty accurate.

Do you find your skating ability lends itself to the system in place?

Yeah, I know a lot of people have asked me what I feel my skillset is and the first thing that always comes to my mind is my skating. I've worked on it since I was very, very young and I continue to work on it. I'd say that his system has been a good complement to me because I do try to skate as much as I can.

How has the transition been adjusting to the NHL game after spending much of the year in the AHL?

The first game was definitely an adjustment and it's an adjustment in terms of timing and speed. The timing -- a little more patience, the skill level is a lot higher at this level. Speed doesn't necessarily have to mean speed in terms of skating, but in terms of speed in decisions. I think that I really noticed the big difference in how quickly people make decisions at the NHL level. I think I tried as best I could to keep my skills sharp in the AHL and I was given a lot of responsibility thanks to my coach Luke Richardson and [assistant coach] Steve Stirling down in the AHL. They really have helped me stay sharp. The first couple of games was a bit of an adjustment but overall I think I'm adjusting pretty well.

What goes through your mind ahead of your first game in front of the home crowd?

It's going to be fun, I think it brings a lot of nostalgia too. I remember growing up and watching these games on CBC. When I went to school here I remember coming to a few games so going out there and playing in front of Leafs fans is going to be a pretty special moment for me.

12:00 PM:
Jonathan Bernier gets the start in goal for the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Here's what he had to say ahead of the game...

Leafs TV

How important is the remainder of the season to re-establish where you want to be?

Definitely, every game is a chance to be proven and at the same time I feel like my last few games, probably not Edmonton but before that, I was back on track and I just want to keep going in the same direction and keep that process I guess. Not really looking at the result and working hard. I think that's the only thing I can do.

In what ways do you feel different in net?

Well I definitely feel a lot more comfortable, it's been a while though. Like I said, every day I'm just trying to work really hard on my game and make sure I stay ready. Even if you don't play a lot it's a matter of staying sharp mentally and that's what I'm trying to do.

Does 200 games mean anything to you?

I actually didn't know, I just found out right after practice. Obviously it's a nice milestone.

On returning home for a start:

It's nice to be back home. I think we've left for a couple of weeks now and guys are really excited to be back home and play in front of our fans.

11:45 PM:
Here's what Mike Babcock had to say ahead of tonight's game against the Rangers.

Leafs TV

Is there chance Loov plays tonight?

Game time decision based on Hunny.

What are your scouting reports on him that led to his recall?

He really skates good, a big body and he's just got to play a simple game. It's like anything, a lot of guys have come into the National Hockey League and it takes them some time to figure everything out but he's definitely got the size, he definitely can skate and he's physical enough. He's going to get his opportunity at some time, let's see what he does.

What should Bernier be focusing on at this point in the season ahead of his 200th game?

I think that's a great question and I think it's a question he should be asking himself. Make the first save tonight and then make the second save and just focus on that. The other thing is it doesn't matter what year you're in in your career, or what stage you're in in your career, if you play good today everything is okay. Then you come back and do it again tomorrow. It's amazing how you can reel a season in even when it hasn't started on time for you. These two guys are in competition and if you play good you get to play again and if you win you get to play again, the ball is in his court right here. Any time someone gives you a chance to get your job back you should grab hold of it. He knows all of that and it's not like he hasn't worked. He's worked and he's tried hard, Steve [Briere] and him have worked on his game and confidence is a hard thing to get back when it gets away on you. If you work real hard and you believe in yourself and the gifts you've been given you find a way to get it back. We're pulling for him. That's the other thing I think he understands is the coach is pulling for you, the GM is pulling for you, your teammates are pulling for you, the city is pulling for you, everyone wants you to do well. No one wants you to not do well so he's got a good opportunity tonight against the Rangers.

Do you get jealous of a team like the Rangers who have had Lundqvist in net for 11 years?

I guess what I would say to you is we're not at the jealousy stage yet. We're just at the building stage. You can look around the League each night and when you watch games -- I watch lots of them -- and you can say we'd like to have that guy and we'd like to have that guy. That's what the draft is for and that's what all these draft picks we have are for and that's Mark Hunter is for. We'll build a program.

What is Grabner's status?

Grabner's status is he's playing.

Are you seeing anything different with Reimer?

He just hasn't been as good. The good thing about it is he's got a chance to grab it back the next time he gets in the net. I just think when you look at it, we just played eight of nine on the road and the game to me in Ottawa and the game the other night in Chicago aren't good enough and aren't determined enough and aren't organized enough. We now have a run at home here. Let's get playing well and let's get playing good so we can feel good about ourselves. You come in the rink, you feel good, you love the game and that's why you play so let's play well.

What has P-A Parenteau done to earn your confidence?

He scores, he plays good, he backchecks, he gets the puck out on the wall, he's become a kind of leader in the room for us. He's a guy -- you know, it's interesting for me, talking about Bernier. P-A, the last two stops he had didn't go very good. He decided he wanted his career back, we talked a lot about it, he had to get to work. He's worked real hard, if you look at his numbers suddenly -- I don't know what his numbers are or if someone has a sheet there -- but his numbers are pretty good, he's got reasonable numbers for the National Hockey League. He transports the puck, he runs our power play, he's efficient for us and I've just got to remind him to work once and a while.

Do you buy the idea that the first game back after a long trip is tough to get going for?

Well it might be if you've got lots of wins and you're feeling real good, but if you haven't got lots of wins this is a big, big game for us and we want to get off to a good start. We've had an off-day, we had a practice day, there's no reason not to play well.

On his visit to The White House in 2008:

An unbelievable experience. I only got to do it once, they [the Blackhawks] got to do it three times. George Bush, I remember sitting in his office with him and Ken Holland and it was unbelievable. To just sit in there and to hear him and listen to him talk and experience that. I'm not sure that President of the United States -- I think when you're trying to become it I think it's a great idea and when you get there you wonder what you got yourself into a little bit. It was a great experience, I enjoyed it a lot.

11:30 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Thursday night when they come home from a five-game road trip and host the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs are coming off of a 7-2 loss in Chicago on Monday night. Mark Arcobello and P-A Parenteau recorded the goals for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer stopped 25 shots in the loss. Jonathan Bernier will get the start in goal against the Rangers. His last start was Feb. 11 in Edmonton.

The Rangers will play the second leg of a back-to-back on Thursday in Toronto. On Wednesday night, they dropped a 5-3 game to the Blackhawks. Kevin Hayes, Derick Brassard and Dan Boyle scored for the Rangers in the loss. Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves in the loss. Antti Raanta is expected to start for the Rangers.

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

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