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The third of four episodes spans from the shootout win over Phoenix to the shootout loss at the hands of the Rangers before the Christmas break (after which Joffrey Lupul is followed while Christmas shopping and James van Riemsdyk and his family are featured in their annual Christmas shinny game). The centerpiece of the episode is, naturally, the first meeting of the season between the Wings and Leafs.

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Randy Carlyle sounds thankful for some upcoming rest time in his post game presser. The so-many-games, no-practice excuses don’t really stand up to the “other 29 teams” test, though.

In a far more entertaining second episode of 24/7, both clubs are mired in the frustration of losing too many games, with the respective head coaches serving as the central characters. A furious Mike Babcock sends an HBO cameraman scurrying out of the Wings dressing room. During Randy Carlyle’s outburst, the Toronto cameraman has the foresight to tape through a half-closed door rather than standing in the middle of the maelstrom.

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Carlyle: “We didn’t have enough of a compete level in the 50/50 battles.”
“I’d agree with that description [embarrassing].”

Phaneuf: “I’ve got to be better. I made some mistakes tonight that are unacceptable.”
“We take pride in being a team that isn’t outworked. Tonight we were outworked…These are points you cannot get back.”

Reimer: “There’s never an excuse. Injuries, tired, it’s all BS. Those are excuses and they’re useless.”

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Rielly goes coast to coast for his first career NHL goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Congratulations on the the first of many, Morgan.

HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic – Full Episode #1

In Episode #1 of HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic, hockey fans get an inside look to The Original Six Franchise’s dressing room, coaching staff, players, and hockey operations.

Enjoy.

Episode 1 of HBO 24/7: Leafs/Wings aired its first episode Saturday night on HBO U.S. Sportsnet will have a profanity-but-not-commercial free showing Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.

While it was a relatively tame opening “tee up” episode, it still had us glued, and there were a few entertaining moments. The HBO production literally made a closing door seem epic.

Among the highlights, a mic’d up Joffrey Lupul took on Slava Voynov after taking a high cross check to the face, firing Nazem Kadri up on the bench:

Randy Carlyle tangoed with a malfunctioning toaster, calling in the assistance of a member of the maintenance staff who stuck his hand in to fish it out.

Jonathan Bernier reminds the dressing room that the Bruins are to be despised:

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As good of a 60-minute effort the Leafs have mustered all season takes down the League’s number one team.

The touchdown of Leaf goals:

SCORING SUMMARY
 
 
 
1ST PERIOD
7:14:00TOR PPG - Peter Holland (4) Snap shot - ASST: Joffrey Lupul (8), Mason Raymond (11)1 - 0 TOR
16:14:00CHI PPG - Patrick Kane (18) Wrist shot - ASST: Marian Hossa (15), Duncan Keith (27)1 - 1 Tie
2ND PERIOD
0:42:00TORJerry D'Amigo (1) Backhand shot - ASST: Nikolai Kulemin (5), Carl Gunnarsson (3)2 - 1 TOR
12:09:00TORPeter Holland (5) Snap shot - ASST: Mason Raymond (12), Joffrey Lupul (9)3 - 1 TOR
13:30:00CHIPatrick Kane (19) Wrist shot - ASST: Niklas Hjalmarsson (11)3 - 2 TOR
14:36:00TORNikolai Kulemin (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Jay McClement (3), Jerry D'Amigo (1)4 - 2 TOR
17:08:00TOR PPG - Joffrey Lupul (9) Tip-in - ASST: Jake Gardiner (10), Mason Raymond (13)5 - 2 TOR
3RD PERIOD
0:28:00TORJoffrey Lupul (10) Wrist shot - ASST: Peter Holland (2), Mason Raymond (14)6 - 2 TOR
7:38:00CHIBrandon Saad (12) Tip-in - ASST: Nick Leddy (12), Jonathan Toews (17)6 - 3 TOR
8:35:00TORPhil Kessel (17) Wrist shot - ASST: Nazem Kadri (12), Carl Gunnarsson (4)7 - 3 TOR

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It’s the first time since November of 2010 that we’ve even had to ponder the question of what the Maple Leaf blueline will look like without Dion Phaneuf.

Alas, Phaneuf has been suspended for two games as a result of his hit from behind on Kevan Miller at the end of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

It seemed like a game would suffice given Phaneuf’s nonexistent priors and Miller being fine outside of a cut on his face. But the Leafs haven’t had much luck in the injury or suspension departments this season, and Phaneuf will join David Clarkson, Carter Ashton, Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel (preseason) among those in Blue and White to have been suspended this season. Combined with significant man games lost for Bolland, Bozak and Lupul, adversity has not been in short supply for the Leafs in the first half of the season.

Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner could become the de facto top pair in Dion Phaneuf’s absence, with perhaps Paul Ranger replacing Dion on the right side of his pairing with Carl Gunnarsson. From there, Randy Carlyle can fill out his lineup with a combination of Morgan Rielly, John-Michael Liles and Mark Fraser. Jake Gardiner playing 25 minutes isn’t something he’s foreign to, but a guy like Cody Franson will need to step up on the right side.

Update from practice:

 

It could be a sink or swim proposition for some of the Leafs D seeing increased minutes, as the two games Phaneuf will miss will be against the Kings and Blues, who are both in the League’s top 8 overall with a combined record of 38-13-7.

One upside is that Phaneuf seemed a little hobbled after blocking a shot with his foot against Ottawa, and played despite some discomfort on Sunday. Maybe the forced rest will do him some good. But it’s woeful timing as far as the competition in the Wednesday/Thursday back to back.

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The Maple Leafs haven’t experienced a game without Dion Phaneuf since November of 2010. That may change on Wednesday vs. the Los Angeles Kings, as the Leafs’ number one defenceman will have a hearing with the league discipline office tomorrow for a hit on Kevan Miller at the end of Sunday night’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. It will be a phone hearing, which only tells us it will be less than five games if a suspension is handed down.

This is a pretty bad hit. Miller never turned. Dion Phaneuf claimed in his post game interview that he didn’t see him until it was too late; whether intentional or reckless, it’s Phaneuf’s responsibility not to ram Miller head first into the boards when his back is turned. Also a factor: Miller left the game injured, but the Bruin rookie is apparently OK (only a cut) and will play on Tuesday according to Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

Dion Phaneuf does not have a record in terms of suspension history in the NHL.

Phaneuf got away with this hit on the ice, but dirty Leaf hits don’t seem to slip by the League Discipline office. They don’t seem to have Dennis Seidenberg-type luck that way.

If suspended, the timing couldn’t be worse with Los Angeles and St. Louis coming up in the Leafs’ next two games.

For a full recap of the Leafs’ 5-2 loss to Boston, check out the Game in 10.

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Placing Tyler Bozak on Long Term Injured Reserve freed up the cap space to call up defenceman John Michael Liles on Friday.

Trying out someone with his puck moving ability and experience on the backend couldn’t hurt based on how the team has been struggling to get out of their zone.

Liles has 13 points and is a plus-nine in 16 games in the AHL this season, and has been a favourite of head coach Steve Spott’s for taking the demotion so well and eagerly embracing a leadership role on a young Marlies team.

What does it mean for Morgan Rielly? Well, if he isn’t playing consistently come decision time for the World Juniors (December 19th), it’s hard to imagine him staying. The Team Canada option remains open. It will depend on the situation in a week and a half, one imagines.