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Game Journal: Game 79 - Panthers vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

2:00 PM:
Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Panthers...

Toronto Maple Leafs


46 Lindberg - 42 Bozak - 37 Kapanen

38 Greening - 39 Nylander - 15 Parenteau

23 Laich - 54 Gauthier - 40 Grabner

25 Clune - 56 Froese - 28 Boyes


52 Marincin - 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner - 20 Corrado

48 Campbell - 29 Brennan


45 Bernier

31 Sparks

Florida Panthers


11 Huberdeau - 16 Barkov - 68 Jagr

36 Jokinen - 27 Bjugstad - 18 Smith

26 Purcell - 23 Grimaldi - 24 Hudler

42 Howden - 17 MacKenzie - 22 Thornton


51 Campbell - 5 Ekblad

7 Kulikov - 3 Kampfer

46 Kindl - 44 Gudbranson


35 Montoya

1 Luongo

1:45 PM:
Here's what Morgan Rielly had to say ahead of Monday's game...

Leafs TV

How is Kadri dealing with the impending suspension?

I think he's handling it well, this stuff is going to happen. He plays the game hard with a lot of grit and if you do that you're going to have instances where you might run into a couple of bumps in the road. He's been handling it well. He's a pro, he's dealt with this kind of stuff in the past and this is no different. He's working hard and he'll be back soon enough.

Is it your sense that not much fazes him?

Well I think that's just the way he always has been. It's not easy to get under his skin. He's a pretty focused guy and he's not going to let something like this really take him off the path. He's going to keep doing his thing, keep working and do his best to try to get back.

Does playing in this market put him under the microscope?

I think wherever he is he'd find the microscope, but no, he's fine. That's just what happens. He's a player that plays the game hard and these things are going to happen when you play on the edge and that's what he does. He plays fair, he's an honest guy, he's not out there to try and break the rules on purpose. Things are going to happen and this is just one of those instances.

How important is it to have a guy like that on your side?

Naz is a good teammate. He plays the game hard, we love playing with him. He's one of those guys that plays hard every night, has a lot of drive and I think having those guys on your team goes a long way. You like playing with them. But again, if you play the game, if you play the game on the edge, stuff is going to happen. It's not going to change who he is. He's a good person and he'll be back.

1:30 PM:
P-A Parenteau spoke to media ahead of Monday's game. Here's what he had to say...

Leafs TV

What progress have you seen from Nylander as a linemate?

I think he's showing a lot of poise with the puck, he's moving well on the ice too. He's skating well and it's a good attribute to have these days. You've got to be fast these days and he's got all of that. He's been working on his game defensively trying to play the right way too. It's good for him, it's good that he's here and playing well.

Are you surprised that at his age the game has slowed down to have that patience and confidence?

Yeah, it's a tough thing to do to be patient with the puck at this level. It's nice to see that at a young age from him. I think the sky is the limit for this kid. He's got to play the right way, do the right things and he's well on his way to being a really good player in this league.

How do Jagr and Luongo continue to do what they do at their advanced age?

I think they're pretty special players first of all, the two guys you just mentioned. It's not easy to do it at that age, that's for sure. I think you need a good veteran presence. You need guys that have been down the path, been down the road of the playoffs and I think they've got a really good squad and a really good chance of winning this year.

Do you still get a kick out of playing Jagr?

I still do. Even my first year in the League it was special. He was one of the best players to play the game and he's still doing it at 44, it makes it even more incredible.

How do you think Kadri is doing with the fines he's picked up and a potential suspension?

I think he's good. I don't think he meant to hurt the guy. We'll see what comes down today but I didn't think it was that bad. Obviously he's been called for diving too but he's a good player. He's been one of our best forwards all year and we're behind him 100 per cent... He's a pretty confident guy, all the boys love him in the room. Like I said, we're all behind him and whatever happens to him today happens to him.

1:15 PM:
Byron Froese returned to the Leafs lineup on March 31 after missing 13 games with an injury. Here's what he had to say ahead of Monday's game...

How do you feel getting back into things now after a couple of games?

I felt a lot better last game obviously, you have a game and a practice underneath you. I know the first game I felt pretty rusty just trying to get back in the swing of things, remember the systems, remember where to go. It wasn't first instinct really that first game. Last game I felt really good and I'm looking forward to getting back into the middle today and going back at it.

Was it disorienting at all with the number of changes to the lineup between games?

Yeah, it was a little different but that's the nature of the sport, it happens throughout every professional team wherever you are. You're kind of used to having new guys on your line, new guys in the lineup. It's a friendly environment. Everyone here loves everybody, everybody is friends with everybody. It's pretty easy to get back in the lineup.

Was there much of a learning curve playing the wing last game?

I think it was my first full game playing the wing since being up here. I played bit of wing last year, which helped and I played a few shifts this year after power plays and stuff like that where you help on the wing. As a forward you've got to be able to play any position whether it's down low or it's on the wall. I like to pride myself on being versatile in that sense.

What have you seen from the new additions to the group on special teams and the penalty kill?

It's great, they've come up and they haven't missed a beat. They've been great on the penalty kill when they come up and that's a testimony to what Sheldon is doing down there. He's doing a good job with it. It's great when you have guys who can fit seamlessly in and you can work off of it. They know exactly what you're going to do and you know what they're going to do. It's pretty seamless.

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

Leafs TV

What goes through your mind when you see a guy like Jagr hop over the boards and still be effective?

Well, get his autographed stick before he's done. I've been asking for two years and still haven't got it so that's one of the things. Obviously it's no different than [Chris Chelios] was, the great, great players are better than everybody else so they can play longer and what happens to you is you get other interests in your life, so you can't train as hard and can't dig in as much. Obviously for him his passion for the game is such that he's allowed to do the work that allows him to play. The other thing, and he'd be the first to tell you this, Barkov and Huberdeau, they get up and down the rink pretty good. So, he can use his head and his size and not his speed through the neutral zone. That helps him as well. Having the right situation for him is important as well but obviously he's a gifted player.

On Luongo:

The first time I saw him was in '98 at the Memorial Cup and I think they got us to overtime and he stopped 65. I had him at the '04 World Championships and won and the [2010 and 2014] Olympics. He's a good man, obviously he's comfortable in Florida too. I think that's important in your life. When you've got things going away from the rink really well and when you get to the rink you can focus on being who you are. He's had a great run and done a lot of winning and he's on a great team now and he seems happy. That's good for him.

How much of an attribute for Nylander is his patience with the puck?

Well he had more of the puck last game in the second and third. What he's finding out is if he plays real well he has it all the time and he can make a lot of plays. Then, the good players have the puck so much that, all their plays don't work obviously, but they have it enough that some of them do. I thought he made some real nice plays last game. Obviously he set P-A up a number of times and it didn't go in. That's good for him. I think you've just got to keep working at it and understand how hard you've got to compete to be a special player. We just talked about Jagr. If you want to be an elite player in this league, your passion and your drive has to be through the roof and you've got to keep getting better each and every day. I like what I've seen so far.

Is Kadri facing a suspension the price of doing business with the way he plays?

No, I think you're allowed to -- he and [Glendenning] were in a battle down low, they're both competitors. Got knocked down, got up, got knocked down, got his helmet knocked off. He was going to cross-check the guy right in the arm, Glennie braced himself, it hit his shoulder pad and rode up. I mean, you've got to command your fair share of the ice. If you're going to play hard, I've got no problem with it. You can't cross-check people in the head. You're allowed to cross-check them in the meat of the arm though.

On Clune joining the team with Kadri out:

Yeah, part of that's a reward, no different than what we've done for the other veteran d-men. Cluner has been a good pro for us, came up and helped us out, looked after our kids down there and kept the flies off them. We think that's real important. A big part of our Calder Cup run.

12:30 PM: The Maple Leafs are back on the ice at Air Canada Centre on Monday when they take on the Florida Panthers.

The Leafs are coming off of a 3-2 loss on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Colin Greening and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs while Garret Sparks made 23 saves. Jonathan Bernier will get the start on Monday night vs. Florida.

The Panthers last played on Saturday night and defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a 4-3 score. Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau had single goals for the Panthers, while Aleksander Barkov scored a pair. Roberto Luongo made 25 stops in the win. Al Montoya is slated to start in Toronto.

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

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