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Game Journal: Game 67 - Maple Leafs vs. Senators

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

3:00 PM: TJ Luxmore and Dean Morton will be the officials tonight. David Brisebois and Brad Kovachik will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on Hockey Night in Canada, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

2:45 PM:
Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Senators.

Toronto Maple Leafs


41 Soshnikov - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov

15 Parenteau - 39 Nylander - 11 Hyman

38 Greening - 23 Laich - 24 Holland

18 Michalek - 26 Smith - 40 Grabner


52 Marincin - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 8 Carrick

29 Valiev - 20 Corrado


31 Sparks

45 Bernier

Ottawa Senators


15 Smith - 44 Pageau - 61 Stone

68 Hoffman - 93 Zibanejad - 90 Chiasson

43 Dzingel - 23 Gomez - 6 Ryan

13 Paul - 27 Lazar - 25 Neil


3 Methot - 65 Karlsson

2 Phaneuf - 5 Ceci

21 Kostka - 45 Wideman


41 Anderson

30 Hammond

2:30 PM:
Colin Greening returns to Ottawa for the first time since being acquired by the Leafs from the Senators. Here's what he had to say ahead of the game...

Leafs TV

Is it weird for you to be back in Ottawa?

Yeah, it's mixed emotions for sure but I was saying yesterday, with the Battle of Ontario it's lots of energy so I'm definitely going to try to feed off that tonight. It'll definitely be mixed emotions, but also too I think having that first game last Saturday playing against the guys helped me deal with it.

Is it going to feel different playing in this split atmosphere wearing a Leafs uniform?

It was always interesting to come into this arena when we played Toronto, we'd always tell ourselves, 'Let's play a smart road game' because of all the Leafs fans that used to be here so I'm expecting a lot of Leafs fans to be in there. It's a really fun game to be a part of.

2:15 PM: Garret Sparks gets the start in goal on Saturday night for the Leafs. Here's what he had to say prior to the game in Ottawa...

On facing fellow Chicago native Craig Anderson:

It's definitely interesting, I worked for him a few years ago and Colin Greening was there shooting as well. It's kind of like -- it's funny how things come full circle. He played in Guelph and I played in Guelph. I remember four or five years ago, my goalie coach at the time in Guelph brought me out here to meet Craig and see what it's like as a little bit of a motivation. It's not my first time in Ottawa and it's pretty interesting to get back here and be able to play a game against him.

Is summer hockey school where it began for you as inspiration?

No, I mean, I had a great time working for Craig and he runs a great camp out of Johnny's IceHouse down in Chicago. I always knew I wanted to help teach goalies and I had a market that was ready for a series of camps so that was kind of the inspiration behind that.

On getting three consecutive starts and building confidence:

Consistency is a little bit easier to establish when you're playing more regularly. Obviously it's an opportunity I've been given and I want to do the most I can with it. I'm just going into it tonight like any other game.

On facing Phaneuf and his shot:

Ever since I was an 18-year-old at camp he's been shooting it as hard as he can. He's got a really good shot on him and you have to respect guys who shoot the puck like that.

2:00 PM:
Here's what Mike Babcock had to say following Saturday's morning skate in Ottawa.

Leafs TV

What is enabling Russian players like Soshnikov and Valiev to acclimate to North America so quickly?

Well, a guy like Valiev, he's been in the Western Hockey League for a long time so it's not like he just arrived or anything like that. He's got it figured out obviously. Sosh is a guy with a language barrier that's going to take a little more time that way but he's a little bit older anyway, he played pro hockey for a long time so he has made a good transition. We'll see Valiev tonight. Obviously we understand he's got to spend some time in the American Hockey League yet, we know that and his development. But it gives us a chance to have a look at him here.

Are you happy with the progression the younger guys have shown?

Yeah, I think it's like anything. Doing it there and doing it here are two totally different things. Just the size of the players you're playing against and the speed with which you're doing it and the commitment to playing without the puck here is just a whole different level. Until you see it, you don't know for sure. It doesn't matter what they tell you there. Obviously Sheldon and the guys there have done a real nice job with our team and we have some prospects down there. Connor Brown continues to play real well and so that's great for a guy who broke his leg. To see him going the way he is is positive as well.

Is the decision to play Nylander at centre partly to show him how much work he has to do?

No, it doesn't have to do -- I don't have any centres. It's real simple. He's been fine, I thought last game he was way better. What happens is at home I can control the matchups. On the road I can't. So, you've got to be better without it. He's a work in progress in that area. You just see it all over the League. There are guys who are really good players now that started on the wing or had a tough time playing down the middle at the start.

What have you liked about your special teams the last three games?

I think our power play, obviously we're scoring a bit on it now again, which is good because it went dead for a long time to say the least. We didn't generate any offence so it was good. We've got a couple now. Sometimes your power play is going better and you don't score at all. We've got a couple off the rush and then we got one 6-on-4 so it probably not as bad as it was and it's probably not as good as it was. As far as the penalty kill goes, obviously just eliminating their opportunities is important. We've done a pretty good job of not giving up shots on the penalty kill, but we've given up key opportunities. We've got to continue to limit them.

1:30 PM: The Maple Leafs are back in action on Saturday night when they visit the Ottawa Senators to wrap up the season series between the clubs.

The Leafs are coming off of a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night. Zach Hyman, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored in regulation for the Maple Leafs, while Nikita Soshnikov scored the lone goal in the shootout. Garret Sparks made 24 saves in the game and didn't allow a shootout goal to earn the win. He starts on Saturday against the Senators.

Ottawa last played on Thursday night and took a 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. Zack Smith and Erik Karlsson scored for the Senators, while Craig Anderson made 25 saves in the loss. Anderson will oppose the Leafs in goal on Saturday night.

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

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