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Game Journal: Game 8 - Coyotes vs. Maple Leafs

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

3:45 PM: Tonight's officials will be Dean Morton and Tom Kowal. Scott Cherrey and Trent Knorr will be the linesmen tonight. You can tune in on TSN 4, Sportsnet 590 The FAN and by following the official Toronto Maple Leafs Twitter account.

Get set for tonight's game with Paul Hendrick, Bob McGill and the Maple Leafs Game Preview.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs
21 van Riemsdyk - 43 Kadri - 47 Komarov
26 Winnik - 24 Holland - 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
34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Arizona Coyotes
16 Domi - 11 Hanzal - 10 Duclair
8 Rieder - 24 Chipchura - 89 Boedker
48 Martinook - 12 Richardson - 19 Doan
28 Scott - 15 Gordon - 17 Downie
23 Ekman-Larsson - 26 Stone
34 Dahlbeck - 4 Michalek
2 Grossmann - 5 Murphy
41 Smith
29 Lindback

2:30 PM: It's Hockey Fights Cancer night at Air Canada Centre tonight. Keep an eye out for the Leafs in lavender gear throughout the night. Proceeds from tonight's fundraising efforts will benefit Camp Trillium.

Keep an eye out for the #Leafs in lavender gear tonight. It's Hockey Fights Cancer night at Air Canada Centre. #TMLtalk

A photo posted by Toronto Maple Leafs (@mapleleafs) on

2:00 PM: Leafs TV got an update from Morgan Rielly ahead of tonight's game and checked in with Tyler Bozak and Jake Gardiner on the status of their injuries.

1:30 PM: Leafs defenceman Scott Harrington spoke with the media on Monday ahead of tonight's tilt with the Coyotes. Here's what he had to say...

How do you slow down Max Domi as someone who played with him?
You've got to get rid of his speed. Max is very shifty and he's a competitor so we'll have to make sure the guys that are out there against him are playing him hard and trying to eliminate his time and space. The more we can frustrate him or keep the puck out of his hands, the better it'll be for us.

Do you have any inside info that may help you trash talk him?

I'll have to think about that. I drove Max to the rink for a few years so we had a good friendship in London and he was great for us. It'll be great to play against him tonight.

Who picked the music in the car?
I ran the music. It was my vehicle but we had some good times for sure.

What has been the key to your under-the-radar consistency thus far?
That's the game that I play. If I'm not being noticed it's not necessarily a bad thing. I just try to be consistently solid defensively and move the puck well. Having the opportunity to play with Morgan has been good the last couple of games. He's a solid player. For myself I'm just trying to get better every day and with each day and each game I'm gaining more confidence.

12:15 PM: Leafs goaltender James Reimer will start on Monday night. Here's what he had to say following today's morning skate...

Does a club struggling offensively put more pressure on a goaltender to keep a clean sheet?
Obviously that's the goal is to keep her as clean as you can the whole game but it's one of those things where you can't focus on that [scoring] too much. Guys are working hard, they're doing a lot of good things, they're getting chances and goals will go in when they need to go in. As far as goaltenders we just worry about what we can do and keeping it tight. At the same time you can't put too much pressure on yourself because then you can't perform. You just go out there and trust in your preparation and hope that that'll be good enough on that given night.

Are you seeing anything at the other end of the ice that could be changed for more goals?
I don't know, I'm not a forward so I haven't scored many goals in this league. I think what we're doing is the right thing. We're getting pucks to the net, we're getting bodies there and when you're doing that goals go in. That's the way you can consistently score goals no matter what. I think we stick with it and I think pucks will start going in. They have in the past and they will going forward. I think that's something we don't need to worry about too much.

What do you know about he Coyotes and Domi and Duclair?
Not too much, just that they seem to be speedy guys that can get into space and they've got pretty good shots. It's just one of those things for me that you've got to keep an eye out for them and make sure you're ready because it seems like they can make plays and they can find each other in open space. For me it's just focus on the puck and be aware of who's out there.

Is rust a thought process as you get ready to play this game tonight?
I don't think so, it's been about a week since I've played so that's not too bad. I think we've been practicing hard and so when you practice competitively and work at it honestly you can be ready whether there's two days between games or 20. I feel ready and it should be a good one.

Do you hear anything from coach about your start and what they're looking for?

No, not too much. It's often he's hands on and likes to offer what he thinks is the right thing to do obviously but in this instance I think most of it is through Steve [Briere] and he [Babcock] trusts what he is going to do to prepare us for the game.

11:45 AM: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media on Monday ahead of tonight's game. Here's what he had to say...

Bozak and Gardiner skated but aren't available tonight?

Bozak talked like he wanted to play but when you've been off as long as him and you haven't practiced -- I've done it in the past, play a guy like that and then he has a pulled groin partway through the game and he's out another three games. We'll get him ready for the Rangers and then Gardiner still was uncomfortable. He skated but he didn't skate.

What are your impressions of Max Domi?
I don't know him very good yet. I've seen him play junior hockey, I saw him play one night and he was on a line with my kid in a game and he looked pretty good. It looks like he's got in his last five games, when I do my 'what have you done for me lately' file, he's got four and one for five or something like that. He can obviously really fly, every time I've seen him when I've been watching him play junior hockey he plays with tenacity, he seems to have a confidence about him. I thought he was very good for the World Junior team last year and played with energy. As far as being a pro and seeing him every day, I've never seen that. I'm going to see it here today but obviously him and Duclair -- they've got some kids over there that are starting to come and be factors. In the next 10 years they're going to be real factors.

What went into the decision to start Reimer?
I just felt it was his turn. We are in the results business and as much as we can say to ourselves, jeez we did lots of good things, I can show clips until the cows come home of how good we were. But, I can show clips that they're on a breakaway, suddenly instead of being tied together as a group of five, we're not. It's the same thing for the goaltender. He did lots of good things and yet Reims gets the opportunity. It's simple.

Will you have Nick Spaling tonight?
I don't have Nick Spaling for tonight. It's just a test. It's called an early test. That's all it is. I get to see all these other guys play, right?

What happens off the ice that makes your centres better at winning draws?

I think it's real important in these situations that you ask the player what they think. I know what I think happens but just because I think it happens doesn't necessarily mean -- I think I'm a good teacher and then I watch us play sometimes and I'm obviously not as good as I'd say. We try to be diligent about what we're doing in a preparation manner. All set plays or set pieces in the game -- I'm talking faceoffs, breakouts, even 6-on-5 -- all those things that are potentially a set piece, you should be good at. You've had time to prepare something in control, it's not reading the game it's just you've been told what to do, do it. We've still got work to do but obviously if you have the puck off the draw it's better than chasing.

What are you looking to see from Peter Holland?
It's simple for me for Peter Holland. I think he's got a skillset. In the National Hockey League the best players, the super superstars are more competitive than anyone else. If you compete and you're a centre, your linemates feel great, they get the puck, they play in the offensive zone. If you're a centre and you don't, you spend a lot of time in the D-zone and not much happens. The bottom line here, it appears to me like we've got some guys in the middle that I think could play pretty well. I would look at Kadri and I'd look at Spaling. Then we've got other guys who are battling for jobs on a nightly basis. Some guys play in the League 15 years -- I remember Lane Lambert telling me -- he was in the League about 15 years or something -- one of his coaches saying, 'Lane just so you know, as long as you're in this league you're on a tryout every night.' Some guys, when you're on a third or fourth line, you're on a tryout every night. That's just the way it is.

Are there more set plays now than when you started?
I don't think so. I think there was always faceoffs, there was always set breakouts. Now with all the TV and all the work you guys do for us we just pull the clip off and we show the guys and they should know where to stand.

How do you balance what seems to be progress with the actual standings?
Well, I don't look at the standings. I really don't. If I was coaching in Detroit and we were going through a tough spell I wouldn't look at the standings. I'm a frontrunner. I look at it when it's going good and I don't look at it when it's not going good. I can beat myself up all by myself, I don't need anyone to help with that process. But, you're coaching human beings and they know exactly what's going on. They know whether you win or you lose and we talk about it. To me, I'm focused on the process like I always have been. It's no different, we're just trying to get better here today and when you make mistakes and then you make them over again, you've got to fix those mistakes. We're in the process of fixing those mistakes. What we have to be -- I think -- tonight to have success is we have to be ultra-competitive first, play with good structure second and then I think we have an opportunity each and every night. I know we have an opportunity. Let's play like that. Let's be rewarded. Let's not say, 'Hey we were right there.' Let's just win the game.

11:00 AM: The Maple Leafs return to Air Canada Centre for the first time in 16 days tonight when they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7:30 PM.

The Leafs have opened their season with four of their first six games on the road, most recently dropping a 5-3 decision to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Despite peppering the Canadiens goal with 52 shots and 24 scoring chances, they couldn't muster enough offence to get the win. They'll look to earn their first home win of the season tonight.

The Coyotes enter tonight in the midst of a five game road swing. Most recently, the Coyotes defeated the Ottawa Senators by a 4-1 score on Saturday night. Mikkel Boedker recorded a hat trick for the Coyotes in the win while Anders Lindback stopped 35 shots to earn the two points. Arizona has a 4-3-1 record to begin their season.

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

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