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Game Journal: Game 72 - Flames vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

2:30 PM: Tonight's officials will be Dan O'Halloran and Evgeny Romasko. Scott Driscoll and Trent Knorr will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in to tonight's game can watch on TSN 4, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Bob McGill preview tonight's game below.

2:15 PM:
Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Flames.

Toronto Maple Leafs


18 Michalek - 43 Kadri - 40 Grabner

11 Hyman - 39 Nylander - 15 Parenteau

38 Greening - 54 Gauthier - 32 Leivo

23 Laich - 26 Smith - 16 Brown


52 Marincin - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 8 Carrick

29 Valiev - 20 Corrado


45 Bernier

31 Sparks

Calgary Flames


13 Gaudreau - 23 Monahan - 16 Jooris

17 Bouma - 11 Backlund - 67 Frolik

79 Ferland - 93 Bennett - 8 Colborne

52 Bollig - 18 Stajan - 64 Hathaway


5 Giordano - 27 Hamilton

3 Jokipakka - 7 Brodie

26 Wotherspoon - 33 Nakladal


1 Hiller

32 Backstrom

2:00 PM:
Brooks Laich is set to return to the lineup tonight vs. Calgary. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

Good to get back in the lineup tonight?

Yeah, very excited to be back. Had something I needed to do and the organization I just wanted to say was first class about it, namely Mr. Lamoriello, Mr. Babcock. I really appreciate what they allowed me to do. It needed to happen, I don't want to say much more about it, but I'm just very thankful for what they allowed me to do and I'm excited to be back playing hockey.

Are you still coming to grips with the trade here and your situation?

No, I'm a Maple Leaf, I've moved on from that. I think we have a really good hockey team. We're not saying rebuild, it's something you're saying, I think we can compete every night. The thing I like about our team is we play for every inch. I know from playing against teams that teams that fight for every inch are tough to play against. We're going to grow, we're going to get better, we're going to work on things, we're going to get more experience, get more skill, come together more. There's a lot of things, a lot of growth that has to happen but we fight for every inch and I really like that identity.

What does it say about the organization that you can throw a line with three kids out there and they compete?

I think we're obviously very well coached. There's a great level of accountability in here where if you're in the lineup or you're in a certain position or on the ice in a certain situation, you're expected to produce a result. We learn, we do, we teach and we learn and we know we're not perfect. We're coached very well and I think that's really going to speed up the process.

After being part of the charge from Hershey to Washington 10 years ago, can you sense the young vibe here?

Yeah, it's really fun. As a player, as a person, you want to be part of something. You want to have a direction and be part of something. I remember a decade ago, it was a really exciting time, we were really turning hockey around in Washington. We suffered a couple of years there with no success and then we made a coaching change and really took off. I think with the staff we have here we're a lot further ahead than we were there when we started. The game is building, I've seen it in my two weeks, three weeks here. Our game has already been building up, the young guys are getting some success, getting some goals, some touches, getting more comfortable, not looking at certain players being like 'Ah, that's my favourite player or that was my favourite player.' They're saying I can take the puck off this guy or I can compete with this guy. It's a little more comfort level with that. Other than that just having some fun. It's a lot of fun. Great teammates, great organization, just having a lot of fun playing the game.

1:45 PM:
Here's what Leafs blueliner Frank Corrado had to say following Monday's morning skate...

Have you found that the influx of new faces on the blueline has improved the ability to move the puck?

I think we're doing a good job of getting pucks out and obviously getting pucks to our forwards so they can create some offence. I think we've done a good of that lately.

How have you found playing with Valiev early in his career?

He's doing well. He makes good plays with the puck, he's a good skater. He sees the ice pretty well and he's done a good job.

What have the increased opportunities to get minutes meant for your game?

Obviously you need to be ready every shift and you need to be ready what the game is going to throw at you. Just play your game, keep it simple, move your feet, move the puck and try and chip in offensively when you can.

What can you take from the last game against the Flames and take into tonight?

I thought we had a good game that night, I thought we skated well. We had them in on the forecheck and spent a lot of time in their zone. I think that's just something we continue to do tonight and something we've been doing lately. Try to play in their zone as much as possible.

1:30 PM:
Zach Hyman gets set for his 12th game tonight when the Leafs take on the Flames. Here's what he had to say on Monday morning...

Is getting swarmed like you did on Saturday a type of 'Welcome to the League' moment?

I don't know if it's welcome to the League, it was my 11th game so I'm getting a little bit more comfortable and I'm just trying to be physical, get on the forecheck and that happens when you're playing hard. That's part of my game.

Is the penalty kill's success a matter of the speed of the unit or is there something else?

We have a really good system and DJ Smith is a big part of that. We have meetings all the time going over what their power play does, what their tendencies are. Before the game starts we have a lot of preparation and we know what to expect. On the ice we just try to be fast and be hard on them and I think we've been doing a good job. It's been fun.

What do you know about the Flames going into tonight?

They've got some really good young, skilled players. I played against Johnny Gaudreau in college, he's obviously an elite player in college and an elite player in the NHL now. It should be fun to play against him and they seem like they have a lot of guys who can score.

With the Marlies clinching this past weekend, what has it meant to you to be part of that group this year?

The Marlies, going down there and spending the majority of the year down there, it was a great experience, they have an amazing team down there. So many young players who are getting called up here now. A lot of the guys who were there are here now but I just think it's a great team, great chemistry, we got on a roll early and we kind of just kept winning games. It was a lot of fun to be a part of and I learned a ton with the Marlies. I'm excited for the playoffs but I'm just taking it day-by-day here. I'm happy to see them clinch and it was great.

1:00 PM:
Here's what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say following Monday's morning skate...

Leafs TV

Opening Remarks:

So, yesterday I said Leo was playing, he's not playing -- tests on him, it was worse than we thought. Sosh isn't playing. Holland's not playing. We've got Laich back, we didn't expect him back but we've got him back. Bozak and Boyes and those guys should be ready to go for our next game.

How important is it for Gauthier to get a second game under his belt?

I think it's good, I thought he played real well last game and it's just understanding how to get quick is one of the things. I don't think -- before I watched him and I thought it was his skating, it had nothing to do with his skating, he's just got to get from defence to offence faster. He can do that for sure. I was impressed with him in the game, I was really impressed with him yesterday in practice. He looks like a guy who is going to play here so that's positive for us because he's a huge guy.

What can Laich add to the group as a professional and veteran?

Well I think a lot. Obviously you get to choose your attitude every day and I don't discount for one second when you go from a team that looks like they're knocking on the door to a team that isn't, you have to take a look at things. The other thing is motivation, if you look under what's next to motivation is what's in it for me. When you're playing six minutes a night vs. suddenly getting to be important, that's the other side. The team is not as good but the opportunity is really good. So then, if you choose your attitude right and you choose to make an impact on kids, you can have a real impact on them. Just like when you look back at the start of your career and you say hey, who helped me along the way and who helped me be a better pro, there's lots of kids that need help here he seems to have embraced that, time will tell. Everybody is the same here, everybody -- we're all on tryouts. That's the reality of the situation, that's where we're at, we're trying to figure what's going to happen moving ahead.

Is it something with Leo that will keep him out for a bit?

Yeah, I don't know the answer to that totally. He's got a lower body injury and the tests showed he's day-to-day so that means 10. Whatever that means.

Do you see Carrick as someone who can bring offence on a reliable basis as he gets more comfortable?

You know, I don't know the answer to that. We'll just watch over time. I just think, and I said this the other day after a game, I think you have to be real careful about over-evaluating anybody at this time of the year when you're in the situation we are. What I like about him is he's gritty enough to command his share of the ice, moves the puck pretty good and he has a good shot. Now, can that all turn into something more as time goes on? We'll all watch and find out.

Is there a big difference in playing 22 minutes a night and then going up to 27, 28, 29?

I think there is but I think when you're an easy skater I don't know if it's a big deal. The other thing about it, I've never heard one D in all my years coaching come to me and say, 'Can I play less?' Never, ever heard that. But, some guys when you go from 12 minutes to 20 minutes, they end up a minus all the time. Other guys just seem to get better. You just watch and go from there. It doesn't hurt us right now, obviously for us Marincin is playing really well, Gardiner is playing really well and Rielly is playing really well. They're guys that can skate and move the puck and make a big difference to us.

Is Valiev in that list of guys who can skate and be physical?

I think his skating ability has really come but, you know, I watched him with the Marlies and kind of like the Goat [Gauthier], I didn't know he could skate. When I watch him in practice -- I don't seem him skate in the games yet, I see him skate in practice. So, if I didn't see him practice I wouldn't know that. That's got to transfer with confidence and assertiveness and then show up in the game, but he looks like he has a real skillset, he's got a good frame, he can shoot the puck, he can slide with it, he sees what's going on. He's a kid that's a work in progress and he's got to spend some time in the minors.

12:30 PM: The Maple Leafs continue their homestand on Monday night when they host the Calgary Flames at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs are coming off a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. William Nylander, Connor Carrick, Martin Marincin and Milan Michalek scored for the Leafs. Garret Sparks made 20 saves to earn the win in goal. Jonathan Bernier is slated to get the start against the Flames on Monday.

The Flames will wrap up a back-to-back in Toronto on Monday. Calgary is coming off a 4-1 win in Montreal on Sunday night. Joe Colborne and Johnny Gaudreau had single tallies for the Flames, while Sean Monahan added a pair. Niklas Backstrom stopped 21 shots to earn the win. Jonas Hiller will get the start in Toronto.

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

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