From Official Toronto Maple Leafs
On the importance of a quick start tonight:
We haven’t started very good the last four games. We’ve been outplayed the first 10 minutes so we’ve got to turn that around and obviously we’re playing a good team. Now, we played real well against the good teams. We’ve got to be organized, tight-checking and working hard tonight.
What have you seen the Panthers that’s brought them to this point?
We played them a lot when I was in Detroit and the team has really been coming for three years now. Obviously when you draft where they draft, you draft the kids they’ve drafted, you end up to be a pretty good team with a pretty good skillset. They’ve done a good job building a program here. They’ve really skated. The last couple of years they were hard for us just because of the way they skate and they’re going to be hard for us here tonight. We’re going to have to be on the right side of the puck and work hard.
On the Panthers as a template:
Well, yeah, how did we get here though? The problem with the template is that there’s first round pick, first round pick, first round pick, first round pick all high. In order to get that you’ve got to earn that. There’s lots of wounds to earn that. It’s great to say it’s a template. Chicago did it, Pittsburgh did it, these guys are doing it. I don’t know how much fun that is though… What I do know is you’ve got to draft like crazy, you’ve got to develop like crazy, you’ve got to make good decisions. If you make good enough decisions and draft high enough long enough, pretty soon you end up with a real good team.
What does Nick Spaling bring back to the penalty kill?
Well not just our penalty kill, it gives us another centre that can play without the puck. I like Holly but I like him way better on the wing. It gives us a right and left-hand penalty kill faceoff guy. It gives us a veteran player that knows how to play. You’re not as concerned with him in the D zone. Now, he’s got to get up and running too. He has been off for a long time, but we still think he can help our team.
On the comparison between Ekblad and Lidstrom:
Well, he’s a real good player this kid. He’s a right handed shot but he’s got the heavy bomb, he’s got the good stick, he’s got the big size — bigger than Nick was — but great hockey IQ, good skater, he’s an elite, elite player and he’s 19 years old. Everything about him, you don’t see him make a lot of mistakes and that was Nick, he was mistake-free. The really smart guys, even when they’re young, aren’t on a highlight video going the wrong direction. That seems to be him… We did the pre-scout and he’s not in the mistakes. That’s just the way he is. He’s got good hockey sense.
3:45 PM: Tonight’s officials will be Kyle Rehman and Dan O’Rourke. Derek Amell and Tony Sericolo will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on TSN 4, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.
Toronto Maple Leafs
40 Grabner – 43 Kadri – 47 Komarov
23 Matthias – 42 Bozak – 15 Parenteau
24 Holland – 16 Spaling – 19 Lupul
26 Winnik – 56 Froese – 25 Clune
51 Gardiner – 3 Phaneuf
2 Hunwick – 44 Rielly
52 Marincin – 46 Polak
11 Huberdeau – 16 Barkov – 68 Jagr
36 Jokinen – 21 Trocheck – 18 Smith
42 Howden – 27 Bjugstad – 48 Shaw
22 Thornton – 17 MacKenzie – 53 Knight
51 Campbell – 5 Ekblad
7 Kulikov – 44 Gudbranson
3 Kampfer – 6 Petrovic
2:15 PM: The Maple Leafs return to action on Tuesday night when they visit the Florida Panthers.
The Leafs are coming off of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul scored for the Leafs. James Reimer made 27 stops in the loss, picking up a point for the Leafs in the process. He’ll return to the net on Tuesday in Sunrise.
The Panthers last played on Sunday and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 5-2 score. Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith, Vincent Trocheck and Brian Campbell scored for the Panthers in the win. Roberto Luongo made 38 stops to preserve the victory. Luongo will start for the Panthers on Tuesday night.
Stay tuned for projected lineups, comments from Coach Babcock, the Leafs and more.