Friday , December 3 2021

Slow offensive start tries Newlands patience


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TSN Toronto reporter Kristen Shilton checks daily with news and notes on Maple Leafs. The team held a dinner at the MasterCard Center.

It has been two weeks ago William Nylander dissolved his contract stalemate and returned to Maple Leaf's lineup.

The wing has made slow progress in setting up his offensive game in the six races he played in, which only gives two assistants, but head coach Mike Babcock is not about to panic.

"It was a business to do and he made his business clear [signing a six-year extension], but now the business is going to be ready to get started, says Babcock after Leaf's practice on Wednesday. "Be frustrated with yourself or disappointed or whatever word is just a total waste of energy."

While Babcock said he was not "worried" for the Nylanders offense, then the 22-year-old wing acknowledged it was not easy to be patient.

"I have to be," said Nylander. "But at the same time you want to perform and things. It will be the point where you will be angry, but you want to move on."

Nylander shook his teammates is "happy to get me back, now they want me to score" but it has not come easy for a player who has previously shown the elite offensive talent.

"It's hard to really get into game mode without playing games, that's why you have the preseason and even then it takes a couple of games to really go," said Auston Matthews, who missed 14 matches this season with a shoulder injury.

"I think it's the biggest part, just skating, play full 60 minutes, feel good with your legs and your body and the time and everything. It takes some time to come back."

Nylander said he felt fresher two weeks ago than he does now, with the daily gate to work physically. He was also not happy with his performance in New Jersey on Tuesday, one night where he held the record company while 11 different Toronto players had at least one point.

The only way now for Nylander is to continue working to find the sparkle he and Leaf's know lies in.

"Get excited, you're playing in the National Hockey League," Babcock says about his advice to Newlands. "Come and work and fight back. Nobody is surprised. No. [Just] dig and play. "


Matthews is used to big crowds watching him. He is usually not at one stage when it happens.

It will be his new reality on Wednesday night, when Matthews and Mitchell Marner displayed in a national ballet of Canada performance of the Nutcracker. The two will play the role of cannon socks, but Matthews is still not sure what the evening will bring.

"I'll show up 30 minutes before and we'll hear," he said. "They suit you for the outfit then, so not much preparation. I have to prepare myself at home before then. I hope they will not make me do too much stuff."

The center has never seen a live production of Nutcracker, just the movie version, so he anticipates no call to be too spontaneous when the curtain rises.

"I do not want to destroy the game. Everyone continues to tell me how big a deal it is," he said. "It's National Ballet and it's sold and that's a big deal. I think I'm just agreeing with the script."

Knowing clamps about him and Marner is likely to go viral. Matthews goal is to "try not to do anything stupid" but anyway his teammates and coaches will be ready with a few zingers coming Thursday morning.

"They'll have a good laugh, and then we'll have a good laugh at them," said Babcock. "I think they will be outstanding."

A likely goal for some joke will be the colorful clothes the cannons wear. Matthews has watched online pictures and looks forward to experiencing the whole event.

"Hopefully, they have something in my size," he joked. "It will be fun to see me and Mitch with it. I think they make us look good out there."


When Igor Ozhiganov arrived in Canada last summer to start his NHL career, defenseman hardly answered English.

His language skills are said to have come a long way in the months and has not been an obstacle for Ozhiganov to learn what is required to succeed in the hockey's highest level.

"Ozi has incredible skill, size, stick, brain, good defensive," says Babcock. "He has to be faster. Feels it has worked with it and we hope that with more time in the league he will become what we think he can be." Ozi is far down weight and the way up the muscle in a short while take time [to adjust]. "

After playing seven seasons in KHL, Ozhiganov did not enter an NHL spot next to an experienced veteran. He played mainly on Leaf's third pairing with the 21-year-old Travis Dermott, presents a learning opportunity for both.

"They must be better defensively," said Babcock. "Dermy has the fast-paced fiber and he can move the puck and do it all but you must be well defensive. You can not make mistakes at important times in game."

When Ozhiganov has a better grip on the defensive complex of the game, Leafarna wants to see their role in the role of special teams in a big way.

"We think he can be an elite criminal, we really do," says Babcock. "We have not even punished him yet. So it's our plan that goes on."


Leaf's had a special guest on Wednesday, inviting York University Goaltender Alex Fotinos to the session while giving Frederik Andersen the day (mostly) of.

Andersen was out before training with photos and photos Garret Sparks goes through exercises, but left 10 minutes before the whole team started. Zach Hyman was also absent from the procedure.

The Leafs did not run their regular line-combo exercises on Wednesday and focused more on special teams.

Babcock is confirmed after Andersen starts Thursday against Florida Panthers, and that Hyman will be good to go as well.


Maple Leaf's projected lines against Florida Panthers on Thursday:

Hyman Tavares Marner

Johnson-Matthews Kapanen


Lindholm Ennis-Brown


Gardiner Zaitsev


Andersen begins


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