Toronto Maple Leafs prepare for back
Rarely does the NHL schedule allow a team to re visit fame and shame in just 48 hours.
The Maple Leafs get it all this weekend, the home team in the Hockey Hall of Fame Game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday and then off to the scene of their stunning collapse in Game 7 of last season playoffs, TD Garden in Boston for a date with the Bruins.
something that happened, something we have to answer to, something we have to deal with, centre Jay McClement said this week. our goal is to get into that situation again and handle it a lot better.
## ## have other concerns right now. We have to get our game back to where it should be. (Boston) is not something that has been brought up around here. before the Leafs can think about how they manage a three goal lead in the same venue if given the second chance, they better clean up their own end against the Devils. That was the gist of coach Randy Carlyle three detailed practices this week, which will culminate in some changes on defence and at centre.
Carlyle will welcome back ex Devil Mark Fraser physical presence on the blueline after a month away with an MCL tear, at the likely expense of rookie Morgan Rielly. While Carlyle mixed up his three pairings at Thursday practice, it appears the Cody Franson Rielly tandem will be broken for sure, with Franson and Jake Gardiner matched and Fraser joining Paul Ranger.
Rielly poised play in Fraser absence convinced the Leafs to keep him on the main roster beyond his 10 game limit to return to junior hockey and at least until the 40 game mark of the schedule. But as the Leafs were swamped on the shot clock during their western Canadian trip, culminating with Rielly ice time cut in the one sided loss to Vancouver, it as good a time as any for a one game rest.
don know if he going through growing pains, Carlyle said. made some mistakes, as every member of our club has. I don like to say that a young player, especially one just coming in, is experiencing anything other than (the ups and downs) of life in the NHL. We have veterans making the same amount of mistakes, the same type of mistakes, and they don get the same recognition.
we have to make sure Morgan understands certain situations and that those mistakes are ones we aren going to tolerate. who had five assists in 13 games and showed he could meet the demands of the NHL from a skating perspective, stayed late on the ice at Thursday session, ready for the extra work of a healthy scratch. At the time Rielly made the team full time, Carlyle and upper management said it was unlikely the 19 year old Rielly would stay in the lineup for every game.
not sure if there one area of my game that been bad, but I going to keep working hard, Rielly said. happy Mark is back, he a huge part of our team. few stalls down in the dressing room, Fraser was ecstatic about returning to face his old team, on a night when former Devils Brendan Shanahan and Scott Niedermayer will be honoured ahead of Monday Hall induction, with Chris Chelios, Geraldine Heaney and the late Fred Shero.
Badly outshot in recent games and too reliant on goalies James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs could use Fraser shot blocking and his extra muscle against the Devils and Bruins.
very anxious, said Fraser, who was ready a week ago, before the training staff advised the six day break in the schedule would remove any doubt he be 100%. at the point where it pretty hard for me to watch. I want back into the routine. also was doing some extra work on Thursday, battling in the corners with the big boned Franson as his competition.
The Leafs also will be icing a bigger fourth line on the weekend with the signing of Jerred Smithson. The 6 foot 3 centre is expected to pump up Toronto terrible numbers on faceoffs in the absence of injured Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak. He be between Colton Orr (6 foot 3) and Frazer McLaren (6 foot 5), one of the biggest lines Toronto has rolled out in recent years.
One of the Leafs who like to atone for his role in last May meltdown is Reimer. Though the weekend assignments in goal aren set, Bernier didn play in Vancouver and should be due, though Reimer has a good record against the Devils.
we want to go into Boston and have a good game, Reimer said. a new season and we got over what happened.