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Game Journal: Game 59 - Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

2:30 PM: Tonight's officials will be Marc Joannette and Dave Lewis. Mark Shewchyk and Steve Miller will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in to tonight's game can watch on Sportsnet Ontario, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill get you set for tonight's game with their Maple Leafs Game Preview.

2:25 PM:
Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs


40 Grabner - 43 Kadri - 49 Leipsic

38 Greening - 33 Arcobello - 15 Parenteau

26 Winnik - 24 Holland - 32 Leivo

25 Clune - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes


52 Marincin - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 50 Percy

55 Loov - 20 Corrado


45 Bernier

34 Reimer

Carolina Hurricanes


16 Lindholm - 12 E. Staal - 49 Rask

42 Nordstrom - 11 J. Staal - 15 Nestrasil

53 Skinner - 20 Nash - 32 Versteeg

25 Terry - 18 McClement - 34 Di Giuseppe


5 Hanifin - 27 Faulk

74 Slavin - 65 Hainsey

26 Liles - 54 Pesce


30 Ward

31 Lack

2:00 PM:
Nazem Kadri met with the media on Thursday following morning skate. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

After such a tight game last time vs. Carolina, how do you produce offence tonight?

That's exactly what it is. There's not going to be too much space out there so I think simplifying is really the best thing. Try to create offence off a turnover and good defensive zone coverage.

Is there a sense of uncertainty with the deadline coming up?

Yeah, I think so, there's always that uncertainty that's a little uncomfortable with most teams, not only us but obviously there's other teams that are looking to make acquisitions. Realistically, the coaches are going to coach, the managers are going to manage and the players are going to play. What we can do is hope for the best and give our best for the team we're playing for right now.

What have you enjoyed about playing with Grabner?

His speed, he's great defensively so if you make a mistake he's right there to back you up so that's one of the things that has certainly helped me out, especially early on trying to figure out that defensive role and trying not to be a liability and become responsible around the ice. He's definitely backed the guys up. He has been around for a while too so that veteran leadership is obviously a huge aspect of it as well.

Is there a feeling that you just want to get past Monday's deadline?

Yeah, I mean that's the deadline so in most cases that's what happens. At the same time, it's in the back of your head. Guys are conscious of it but what are we going to do? We can't really do much but play the game and give everything we've got for the players in this dressing room and this organization that has given everyone a chance.

Does it affect you at all?

The deadline? Ask Lou. Like I said, I'm comfortable playing here and I love the city of Toronto, but at the end of the day it's up to them. We play and they make those decisions.

Is it weird seeing old teammates play for new teams?

I was actually watching [Colorado vs. San Jose] so I couldn't be more happy for those guys [Matthias, Spaling, Polak]. They earned it and that's what those teams look for, that's what the deadline is all about. Acquiring players and those players being able to come into your lineup and instantly make an impact. That's what it's all about.

How do you stay motivated and engaged under these circumstances?

The players in this dressing room. I'm going to give everything I've got, there's some young guys here and it wouldn't be fair to them if we just threw in the towel and let everyone out to dry. We've got the goaltenders playing their hearts out as well. We're playing for each other right now and obviously guys are playing for their futures, but for the most part you don't want to let the guy beside you down and you play for the guys in this dressing room.

1:45 PM: caught up with Michael Grabner ahead of today's game. Here's what he had to say...

What have you seen from your new linemate Brendan Leipsic?

It's obviously nice [playing with him], they have a lot of energy when they come up. He's a really fast little guy who is tough to contain down low. He's been making some great plays and obviously scoring in his first game. Hopefully we can create some chances again tonight.

Do you have a type of player you like playing with the most?

I'm just trying to open up space skating and I'm trying to get open and let them do their thing. They're two skilled players working off each other in the corners, making plays off the rush and I'll just try to get to the net. It's definitely the players I like to play with that can hold on to the puck and lead the rush and I'll just try to get to the net.

How do you help fill the leadership void with so many veterans leaving?

It's obviously new here, they're going through the rebuild and you're just trying to keep the room normal. This is a time of the year the new guys haven't seen, it's part of the business with a lot of people moving in and out, especially in this situation we're in and the organization is in. You just try to keep it normal and try to go back out to work because we've still got to play games and still try to win games.

Have you gotten used to the cage yet?

A little bit I guess but I think it's going to come off soon. I'm definitely excited for that.

1:30 PM:
Here's what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say following Thursday's morning skate...

Leafs TV

Do you wait for Monday for the craziness to end or does this not faze you?

We've got a game today, we've got to find a way to win. We need a win bad, we haven't had one in a long time.

How quickly are you forming first impressions with these young players?

Just like you. A first impression is a first impression, then a second one and a third one and you give them opportunity and it's up to them to decide. If they don't play well they get less. It's opportunity, there's lots of guys here who, at the start you didn't think were great. Polak was a scratch at the start of the year the first two games and next thing you know he's playing a ton. We like to think it's really fair. You get 23 players, you try to teach them and coach them fairly. That means 23 different ways, but you try to get the most out of them. Someone is going to end up being your favourite or whatever, that's the guy who plays the hardest. Your favourite, it's simple, he does it right, he's your favourite. That's the way it goes.

Any lineup changes tonight?

Nope, no lineup changes. Maybe shuffle it around a little bit. Bernier starts in net.

Is this what you envisioned when you said there would be pain?

I knew what the lineup looked like, I knew what we had to do to have some success. I think talking about something and foreseeing it and then living it are two totally different things. I thought at one point when we had all hands on deck we were playing real well. We haven't been near as good since we don't. I think we play hard most nights and organized. In order to have success today we've got to start on time, it's going to be a tight game I would assume, and we've got to find a way to get a few behind the goalie.

On his relationship with Bill Peters:

He bought dinner for the first time in his life, dusted his wallet off, got it out and bought dinner.

What have you seen from the Hurricanes?

They work real hard, they're organized, they're well coached. I think they've got some pretty good players to be honest with you. You look at their third line scoring, they've got guys on their third line that score. Not many guys get, in their last five games, got four points from a guy on their fourth line. Their young D have really improved their team, they don't play slow anymore. They play fast. When you get guys on the back end that can move the puck and skate, you're better. The other thing is the goaltender now is engaged and playing real well and gives them a chance every night. I think he's about .930 or .940 (save percentage) in the last while, so they win all those one-goal games.

1:00 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Thursday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Maple Leafs are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Leafs got goals from Josh Leivo and Morgan Rielly in the loss, while James Reimer stopped 23 shots. Jonathan Bernier will return to the crease on Thursday against Carolina.

The Hurricanes last played on Tuesday night and defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a 3-1 scored. Joakim Nordstrom, Jordan Staal and Eric Staal scored for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward stopped 36 shots to earn the victory. He will get the start in Toronto on Thursday.

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

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