The Toronto Maple Leafs hosted an optional practice at the Scotiabank Arena on Friday. The Calgary Flames had a full practice.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter was asked on Friday about the adjustments he sought from highly qualified stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
“It’s just a little bit more to their number of shots, the quality of the shots, the pace of play and the 200-foot play,” said the veteran from the bench. “You look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, they play a full game and their best players have made that adjustment to play a full game, so you have to try to emulate those teams to be successful here. ”
Gaudreau, Monahan and linemate Brett Ritchie have thrown and chased the puck more since Sutter took over.
“Whether I’m comfortable or not, it’s our team, it’s our system right now,” said Gaudreau. “You have to adapt. No matter which coach you play for, you need to follow his instructions and make sure you play the right way and the way he wants you to play. ”
“We are trying to limit the turnover,” Monahan said. “We try to hold the pucks more at their end. If you get a chance to run you’re going to grab it, but if they’re not there we have to keep playing the right way.
Calgary had won three straight wins with Sutter behind the bench before getting their ass fucked 7-3 Wednesday in Edmonton. After that game, Sutter noted that the Flames didn’t have the same firepower as other teams in the North Division and had to play a more disciplined style to be successful.
“I haven’t found the net too much in the last few games but we’re 3-1 and that’s all you can really ask for,” said Gaudreau, who had one goal and six shots in the last four outings. “When you’re 3-1 with the new guy, I mean that’s the recipe for success. ”
Sutter doesn’t juggle his lines until tonight, pointing out that the bands have played pretty well. The coach cited “unnecessary penalties” as the main problem with Wednesday’s setback. The Oilers scored on three of four power-play opportunities.
“You see in this division where there are nights like that, basically power play nights,” Sutter said. “Our team responded very well. This is not a problem. ”
“We know our team has skills,” said Monahan. “We know we can score. We have to check first and that’s when we will have our opportunities. ”
The Flames have lost three of four games to the Leafs this season, but went 1-0-1 on a trip to Toronto last month. The Leafs haven’t scored a five-on-five goal against Calgary in those two games.
“We have played well against them in the past,” said Gaudreau. “We played these guys pretty well. ”
“We know what we have to face,” Monahan said. “It’s a game we’re looking forward to and we want to set the tone ourselves and keep the pucks behind. We want to have the puck more than them and be heavy with it on their end and keep an eye out. [on] these best guys. ”
The Leafs should have a lot of energy from a four-day break between games. The rest helped top center Auston Matthews recover from a nagging wrist injury. Matthews has scored three goals, all tight, in seven games since returning from a two-game absence.
“Tony is still pretty balanced,” said line mate Mitch Marner. “Our group tries not to get frustrated and to keep the same mood at all times. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him not to be able to film it as well as he would like, but it sure looks like he’s getting back to normal. and this is a great help for our team. ”
Already battling a hand injury, Matthews injured his right wrist in a game against the Flames on February 24 when defenseman Rasmus Andersson checked him out.
Alex Galchenyuk will make his Leafs debut tonight in the second row with John Tavares and William Nylander.
“Seeing what he did with the Marlies, it seemed like he had somehow reclaimed his boast with his confidence with the puck and seams on the power play and just getting his magic back,” Marner observed. “Thanks to the training over the past two days, you’ve seen it too. His chemistry is improving with JT and Will and I hope they adapt quickly in this game tonight. Everyone is delighted to see him tonight. ”
Acquired in a trade with Carolina on Feb. 15, Galchenyuk played six games in the American Hockey League, producing eight points before being called up by the Leafs this week.
“He will have the chance to play with some good players tonight and I thought these guys looked really good in training yesterday,” said coach Sheldon Keefe. “I think the way he moves the puck and the way he can score and shoot the puck goes well with them.
Wayne Simmonds returns to the Leafs lineup tonight after missing six weeks with a broken wrist.
“It’s been a long time for him,” Keefe said. “He’s the kind of guy who has a ton of energy and he hasn’t been able to use a lot of it in a competitive environment. Just being in practice was really good for him and we wanted to see how he reacted. come here today, but it feels good and we are happy to see him again in the mix. ”
Simmonds will start on the fourth row with Pierre Engvall and Jason Spezza and return to his role as goalie in the upper power play unit. His mere presence on the bench is also expected to provide a spark.
“He’s got a loud voice, a loud voice, you know, a guy who will stand up and scream or cheer the group on from start to finish,” Keefe noted. “He also has a strong voice on the ice with his teammates and with the opposition. He has a lot of respect in the league. ”
After giving up seven goals on 30 shots in Wednesday’s loss to the Oilers, Jacob Markstrom returns to Calgary.
“He had a rough night in the last game and we’re looking for a rebound game tonight out of him,” said Sutter. “That’s what I’m looking for. ”
Frederik Andersen starts for the Leafs. Jack Campbell will be the alternate goaltender. It is the first time Campbell has appeared in a game since a worsening leg injury on February 27 in Edmonton.
Sutter will coach against a familiar foe tonight at Joe Thornton. The two have seen each other a lot over the years in the Pacific Division.
“I have a lot of respect for him. It’s not just how long he’s been playing, but [also] success and how he played and how he played in the playoffs, “Sutter said.” What’s overlooked is his performance in the playoffs. He’s a knocking guy on the door, but his playoff performance has been flawless and his ability to recover and deal with serious injuries is remarkable. ”
Thornton has accumulated 133 points in 179 career playoff games.
Planned Leafs roster for Friday’s game:
Thornton – Matthews – Marner
Galchenyuk – Tavares – Nylander
Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Hyman
Simmonds – Engvall – Spezza
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – All
Dermott – Bogosian
Schedule of Flames projected for Friday’s game:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Mangiapane
Bennett – Ryan – Leivo
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Valimaki – Nesterov