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Game Journal: Game 75 - Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

4:30 PM:
Tonight's officials will be Jon McIsaac and Dave Jackson. Steve Barton and Matt MacPherson will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in to tonight's game can watch on Sportsnet Ontario, listening on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and following the Leafs on Twitter.

Joe Bowen and Paul Hendrick preview tonight's game below.

2:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Lightning...

Toronto Maple Leafs


18 Michalek - 43 Kadri - 40 Grabner

11 Hyman - 39 Nylander - 15 Parenteau

28 Boyes - 42 Bozak - 16 Brown

38 Greening - 23 Laich - 26 Smith


52 Marincin - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 8 Carrick

29 Valiev - 20 Corrado


31 Sparks

45 Bernier

Tampa Bay Lightning


17 Killorn - 51 Filppula - 91 Stamkos

18 Palat - 9 Johnson - 81 Marchessault

13 Paquette - 90 Namestnikov - 23 Brown

22 Condra - 11 Boyle - 46 Blunden


77 Hedman - 25 Carle

5 Garrison - 62 Sustr

89 Nesterov - 55 Coburn


30 Bishop

88 Vasilevskiy

2:15 PM:
Leafs TV caught up with Zach Hyman ahead of Monday's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

What are you seeing as a line where you can contribute physically to help the group's success?

Yeah, I mean, I try to make space for P-A and Willy. They're obviously two really skilled players and I try to get in on the forecheck and be first on the puck and try to get the puck back.

Where did your ability to get stronger and physicality find its way into your game?

I think that I've always been a guy who likes to work hard in the weight room and on the ice. I just tried to get bigger physically at every level I've been at. At Michigan we did a lot of weight training and obviously with the Marlies we have a really good strength and conditioning coach in Richard Rotenberg, the guys here have been great. I'm just trying to do that stuff.

Is getting hit by other big players like Getzlaf something you welcome?

Obviously you're playing against guys you grew up watching play. I grew up watching Getzlaf play for a long time, to be on that play [the winning goal against Anaheim], you don't even notice who you're playing against when you're in front of the net there, who's whacking at you. I just try to do my job and try to get the puck.

Are you getting offensive opportunities as a result of where you are on the ice?

I think so, I think I've been getting a lot of scoring opportunities so hopefully our line can capitalize a little bit more tonight.

2:00 PM:
Maple Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick made his debut for the club against Tampa Bay on February 29. Here's what he had to say ahead of Monday's tilt in Tampa Bay...

Leafs TV

What has 15 games for the Leafs done for your confidence and comfort?

As a player you're always looking for routine and rhythm. Those are the two things. The only way you can kind of maintain both of those is being in the lineup regularly and trying to work on your game and piece it together bit by bit. It's been awesome since the deadline to get that opportunity and I'm trying to make the most of it.

How has the chemistry between you and Gardiner contributed to your success?

I think his assets as a player come out, they're very obvious. He's a great player with the puck and he skates very well. I think between the two of us we're able to maintain a good gap and get out of our end quick, which is hugely important. Then that allows us to play to our strengths in the O zone. I think a lot of it has to do with his personality. He's pretty easygoing, he talks a lot out there. The times I've made mistakes you shrug them off and make a joke on the bench. Whatever you've got to do to move on. He's really helped me as a young guy to get over those mental hurdles throughout. Stuff happens, the other guys get paid to make plays too and sometimes it's going to your way, sometimes it's not. Playing with him has been a huge advantage for helping me try to play as best as I can.

On he and Gardiner's play in transition:

It's something the coaching staff preaches to us. They want us hammering pucks early, getting involved and I think as a D-man you can add that power element to your game, getting shots on net, getting early, leaning on pucks. Everything else kind of sorts itself out. You become more physical, you're skating better. Like you said, mobility is a big part of our blueline. When he's able to get up in the rush you're usually able to count on him coming back and catching whoever he has to and I try to do the same thing. We like to think we're hard to play against on both sides of the puck.

1:45 PM:
Garret Sparks is slated to get the start tonight. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

What did you like about how you competed late in the game against Anaheim?

Well, I mean, we had that game pretty much under wraps and I found a way to make it really interesting there for a while. I knew that we were competing as hard as we could against one of the best teams in the Western Conference and that the later stages of the game I felt like I owed the guys a couple of saves. I'm not one to give up on a game, especially when it's still within reach. You can see the resiliency of this team so far this season, even when we've been down and we've made it interesting right until the end. My mentality as a goalie is just to stop the next shot and give your team a chance to win.

Did you get down on yourself at all when Anaheim came back?

After I gave up the second one I still felt fine and then the third one happened right away and that's when I was like, 'You've got to bear down here and get back to playing your game.' The next two were just kind of hard luck bounces. I didn't let it get to me because I knew that we weren't going to give up and there's no point in looking in the past. It's only one goal. I knew that if I made saves we'd have a chance to win that game still.

Does it feel good to get back to Florida even though we're a couple of hours from Orlando?

Yeah it feels pretty similar. Just walking to the rink and having it be really nice out and getting to play hockey. The one thing I loved about Orlando in the last year was being able to walk to the rink in the sunshine and get to play in front of a great crowd every night. It should be entertaining tonight too.

What do you make of the challenge of going up against a guy like Stamkos?

You just have to be ready. You have to be ready, he's a dangerous player, loves to shoot the puck and he's one of the best in the world. I welcome the challenge.

1:30 PM:
Here's what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say ahead of Monday's game in Tampa Bay.

Leafs TV

How important is it for the young group to get out on the road after six straight at home?

It is, I think it's good. Obviously you don't want to play at home every game, getting on the road is important. The other thing is matchups, the other team gets to dictate the matchups and you get to see your players in situations that maybe we didn't let them get in at home. I think that's real positive for the growth of our group and obviously they're real good teams.

Does Stamkos moving to the wing change the dynamic when you play against him?

Well no, you've got to know where he is. Obviously he can play either position real well, he's a high end player, you don't get 40 [goals] every year by accident. Filppula transports the puck real well and they've got a good team. They've got three groups there, they're going to come at you and they've got a big guy in Boyle. It's always a tough test when we play them.

How much stronger is Stamkos now in his second season after the injury?

I think he's starting to -- we played him in Detroit prior to his injury and I thought he was unbelievable. Then for a while, it takes you time to get the power back. I know he's a guy who trains and competes but he looks like he's a real hockey player playing hard for his team.

Are you concerned about non-calls on Kadri sticking with him for his career?

Well no, what you do is you come to the game as a referee and you make the calls. They taught him a lesson, it was four games. So now, he is one of our best players, just like anyone else when you get checked from behind they call a penalty. When the player checks you from behind and then the player stops on the play because he knows he's getting a penalty, usually it's a good sign it's a penalty.

Can you think of a time when playing the Florida teams back-to-back was tougher than it is now?

No, obviously Tampa's been a good team for a bit and Florida's really got it going. Florida really has their setup good with the players and the group they have too so this could be a real battle down here in Florida to say the least. Good young teams going in the right direction.

What would you point to that you've been able to do well against Tampa?

They're a good team, we try to play them as hard as we possibly can. Obviously when you look at our team we play in a one-goal game every night. It just hasn't been on the right side enough or else we'd be in a different situation. I think that's the way we play. We play tight, we play hard and we try not to give up too much. The bottom line is they have more people that score than we do at this point and we've got to keep them off the board tonight.

1:00 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Monday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

The Leafs are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Ben Smith had the lone Leafs goal on Saturday, while Jonathan Bernier made 30 stops in the loss. Garret Sparks is slated to get the start in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning last played on Saturday night as well, taking a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots in the loss. Ben Bishop will start against the Maple Leafs.

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

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