TORONTO– Dallas Eakins plans to head into Game 3 on Wednesday with the same lineup that blanked the Rochester Americans on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead.
Eakins put his club through a 35 minute practice Tuesday, before loading up for the two-and-a-half hour bus ride, and the only difference to his lineup was on the blue line.
Mike Komisarek didn’t skate while Korbinian Holzer left early, but the head coach said he plans to have both for Game 3 as the plan was to avoid any unneeded workload at this point in the year.
“They’re fine,” said Eakins. “I brought five or six guys in (early) that we ran real hard in Game 2 to work on power play and then told them they could leave.
“It’s basically one of those things where it’s playoffs.”
Stuart Percy and Simon Gysbers skated in place of those two for drills.
One of the changes that Eakins made for Game 2 was taking rookie forward Joshua Leivo out of the lineup and switching Dylan Yeo from the blue line to right wing, which paid off with both Komisarek and Mike Mottau returning from injury to eat up minutes on the back end.
“We gave it a test drive late in the season,” said Eakins. “We put him on the wing because he’s just a good hockey player. But it gives us insurance and he can play that checking role.
“We’ll see at the morning skate tomorrow, but as of now he’s still upfront.”
Forward Spencer Abbott, who sat out Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, is still “pretty banged up” according to Eakins and didn’t travel with the team to Rochester.
Holzer had a rough start to the series when he picked up four minor penalties in Game 1, but Eakins was pleased with how the blue liner bounced back in Game 2 and expects him to be more discipline here on out.
“The message was simple for Korbinian. I walked to the ice with him before the third period (Game 2) and told him we can’t win when he’s taking four minors a night,” said Eakins. “He’s arguably one of our best penalty killers and players, we need him on the ice. He responded well.”
Part of Eakins’ role developing players is to get them prepared for the Toronto media. With the recent Phil Kessel-Media escapade on Monday, in which Kessel declined speaking to the media, the bench boss made it clear that being accountable is needed in this industry. But, he can also understand why a player like Kessel may choose not to speak.
“(Talking to media) is important, especially if you’re going to go play for the Toronto Maple Leafs,” said Eakins. “It’s something you have to get used to, you have to embrace it, stand up and be accountable. We want them to go and stand up. Now I do understand sometimes maybe when a guy doesn’t want to speak. Maybe he’s been asked same question a thousand times and I’m not sure how he can answer it different. But for the most part we encourage our guys to stand up and be heard.”
Eakins had five healthy forwards at practice and the line combos were as follows:
Extras: Tyler Biggs, Ryan Lasch, Jamie Devane, Andrew Crescenzi, Joshua Leivo.
Andrew MacWilliam has returned to North Dakota to write his finals for school and did not accompany the team to Rochester.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series goes Wednesday night in Rochester.