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Game Journal: Game 7 - Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

3:45 PM: Tonight's officials will be Wes McCauley and Eric Furlatt. Derek Nansen and Brian Murphy will handle the linesman duties. You can tune into the game on Hockey Night in Canada, TSN 1050 and on Twitter by following the official account of the Maple Leafs.

Get set for tonight's game with Paul Hendrick and Joe Bowen.

3:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Leafs and Canadiens.

Toronto Maple Leafs
21 van Riemsdyk - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 19 Lupul
23 Matthias - 33 Arcobello - 28 Boyes
40 Grabner - 56 Froese - 15 Parenteau
2 Hunwick - 3 Phaneuf
36 Harrington - 44 Rielly
52 Marincin - 46 Polak
45 Bernier
34 Reimer

Montreal Canadiens
67 Pacioretty - 14 Plekanec - 11 Gallagher
81 Eller - 27 Galchenyuk - 13 Semin
15 Fleischmann - 51 Desharnais - 22 Weise
32 Flynn - 17 Mitchell - 21 Smith-Pelly
79 Markov - 76 Subban
74 Emelin - 26 Petry
28 Beaulieu - 77 Gilbert
31 Price
39 Condon

3:00 PM: Leafs TV also caught up with Byron Froese, set to make his NHL debut tonight, and Nick Spaling. Take a look...

2:30 PM: Here's what P-A Parenteau had to say prior to taking on his former team in Montreal.
Leafs TV

Have you kept in touch with anyone from Montreal during this streak?

Yeah, I talked with Torrey Mitchell the other day. They're feeling it, they're playing well, they're a confident bunch. They're a really good hockey team and we're going to have our hands full tonight but we're up to the task.

What does it mean to play in front of a goalie who's playing at the top of his game?
When your goalie is playing the way Carey is playing or the way Jonathan has been playing the last few games, it makes a big difference. You feel so confident in front of him. I'm not saying you can make mistakes but when you have the confidence in your goalie it makes a huge difference. 

What are the keys to beating Price who is playing so well?
It's a little cliched to get traffic in front but it is what it is, you've got to make life harder on him. If he sees the puck he's going to stop it, he's that good. We'll try to get some traffic and we'll try to get a lot of shots on him tonight.

Can you appreciate what Byron is going to go through making his debut tonight?

It's great. I've been there before, I know how it is. It's awesome, I'm happy for the kid. I'm actually going to play with him tonight so it's fun. It's nice to see that -- a guy who paid his dues in the East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League getting his shot. I really like that.

What's been the difference in your recent production?

I think confidence here and there. It's always tough to adjust to a new team but I'm feeling better on the ice in the last few games here.

2:00 PM: Here's what Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say after today's morning skate.

Leafs TV

Any lineup changes tonight?
Froese is playing, I think Leo is playing, I'll know at game time but I think he's playing, he practiced yesterday I just told him to take the morning off.

On Froese earning this opportunity to play:

I didn't know who he was obviously when he came to camp. He has competed hard, the coaches down there tell me he's been their best player and their most competitive guy, we're trying to get more competitive down the middle of the rink and so the ball is in his court. He's got a good opportunity, playing in Montreal is a fun place to play, they're 8-0, it's your first game in the National Hockey League, I think it's a good deal.

Does this send a wake up call to your other centres as well?
I'm not interested in wake up calls. I think when you play in the National Hockey League you know every day if you don't compete somebody is going to have your job. To me, I don't think we're doing that at all. We're just trying to find a way to evolve our lineup to be the best we can possibly be and that's what we're going to continue to do.

What's most impressive about the start the Canadiens have had?
They're 8-0... I think the goalie is good, I think their first line right now is the best line in the National Hockey League with the way they're playing, they have left and right hand shots on each pair in the back end, they move the puck good, you can trust all four centres. They seem to be playing good as a group. Did I mention the goalie is good?

Do you expect to use Spaling as much as you have or has it changed with Bozak out?

Obviously with Bozak out -- Bozak I thought was really playing well for us. The first time we played Montreal I think Bozak played just about every 5-on-5 shift against Plekanec and he's obviously not here tonight. The other thing about injuries, especially to key people, is it gives you the opportunity to find other people. There's way more emphasis on Spaling and Kadri right now than maybe there would be otherwise. The way I look at it is if you play real good, you get to play. It's real simple for me. I don't spend a whole lot of time looking at the time sheets until after the game when someone asks me -- okay, Spaling played this much. I just try to play the right guys.

Do your guys want to embrace the challenge and be the first team to beat the Montreal Canadiens tonight?

Well, we want to win tonight and we're in Montreal, right? So let's just go from there. I don't think anybody said -- I think we're pretty motivated anyway. But, I think they're big boys and they can read and see what's going on. We played Montreal real well last time if I remember. Carey Price stood on his head. We've got to make him do that again. They're obviously growing in confidence and have gotten better and better. We feel we've gotten better and better. Now we're going to find out tonight. Every time you play you have a test and you find out where you're at.

Why did you put Hunwick back with Phaneuf when Gardiner went out?

I felt that it gave us two real good pairs. I didn't think that having Rielly and Hunwick together and then Dion with, I don't know who you're going to put him with, Polak or Harrington or Marincin was as good. This gives me two.

Are there major differences in style between the ways the two teams approach the game?
I don't know, you'd have to ask their guys. All I know is what the Leafs are trying to do. I think Montreal is a good team with a good talent base that has improved. I think they've done a good job with adding some of the players they did at the deadline last year. Bergie [Marc Bergevin] has done a good job with that. They're playing well, they've got a few stars, obviously the goalie is one, PK, Markov is having a good year, but up front they have some kids that have really come. I think they're a good team. I'm a big believer that the better players you have and the harder you work, the more you have the puck. Sometimes two teams playing the same way, one looks different because one never has the puck and one has the puck all the time.

1:00 PM: The Leafs will look to continue picking up points tonight in Montreal when they take on the Canadiens.

Toronto has picked up points in three of their last four games, most recently in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. P-A Parenteau scored the lone regulation goal for the Leafs while Jonathan Bernier turned in his best performance of the young season, stopping 34 of 35 Sabres shots in the loss. Bernier will get the start in Montreal.

Montreal comes into tonight's game on top of the table with an 8-0-0 record. On Friday night the Canadiens defeated Buffalo by a 7-2 score. Carey Price will get the start on Saturday night after backup Mike Condon got the start in Buffalo and earned the victory.

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

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