TSN Toronto journalist Mark Masters registers daily with news and notes about the Maple Leafs, who practiced at the Ford Performance Center on Wednesday before the home game Thursday night against the Calgary Flames.
Matthew Tkachuk He may be among the best agitators in the NHL, but failed to make a great impression in seven career games against the Maple Leafs, scoring only one goal and receiving three minor penalties.
“He knows that his things probably won’t work with me, because I’ve seen him firsthand,” he said. Auston Matthews, who played two seasons with Tkachuk with the US National Development Program. UU.
Perhaps Matthews and Mitch Marner, who played a year with Tkachuk in the OHL, benefit from being friends with the substitute captain of Calgary Flames?
“Maybe a little,” said Marner. “I mean, I could see a lot of his tricks in London, so I know a couple of things he does after the whistle and things like that, and it was great when you played with him. I mean, he took a lot of penalties for you and a lot of power games. “.
Matthews does not believe that Tkachuk takes it easy with his friends.
“No, I don’t,” Matthews said. “Honestly, I think he doesn’t really take those things into account, he goes out and competes every night, whether against guys he knows or with whom he is friends or not. That’s how it is. I think that’s how it really should be.”
Sheldon Keefe warns his players not to get caught up in the Tkachuk game on Thursday night when the Flames make their only visit of the season to Toronto.
“It’s just being aware of the fact that it’s competitive and it’s going to be difficult on every record and all that kind of thing, but also to not let things get out of the way and become a secondary show,” the coach of the Leafs. “It seems that, you know, it changes the approach you could have in a game and that is not what we want to do. We want to focus only on what we have to do.”
Tkachuk recorded only two shots and a score of minus-1 when the Leafs visited Calgary on December 12. With only one point posted against the Leafs in general, Toronto is the team that Tkachuk has burned less in his career. And when it comes to discipline, it was Tkachuk who got a game suspension for throwing Matt martin, then with the Leafs, in December 2017.
“You must be careful with him,” Marner said. “The important thing for us is to make sure that we stay away from all things after the whistle, nothing will happen, just make sure we are playing intelligently.”
And while Tkachuk is receiving criticism for his successes at Edmonton’s Zack Kassian and how he dealt with the consequences, the Leafs don’t expect the 22-year-old to dim things at the center of the hockey universe.
“He did the same thing he does now at the OHL,” Marner said, “and the most annoying thing is the ability he has in him and how good he is. If you take penalties against him, he could be the one who puts him at the bottom of his network, so that’s what really bothers people. “
“It’s something that feeds on,” Matthews said. “I saw it firsthand for two years. He just likes to compete and play to the limit. Obviously, he’s a little angry at a couple of people for doing it, but I definitely think it’s one of those (things) where he’s a guy against him. that you hate to play, but a guy that you would love to have on your team, for sure. “
Keefe is beginning to incorporate music into Leafs practices more and more.
“It’s the rhythm and the energy,” he explained, “especially on days like this, you come back from a game, it can be a bit difficult to put the equipment back on and go to work a little. Just raise the energy level not much different from what you would do in the gym. “
On Wednesday, video coach Jordan Bean was stationed next to a large speaker in the stands overlooking the ice waiting for Keefe’s signals about when to play the melodies.
“I’m a fan of that, it’s just relaxing,” said Marner, who at one point gestured for Bean to restart the music even without Keefe’s approval. “I’m not sure what others think, but I had fun with that.”
Some players are not excited about the playlist, which on Wednesday presented “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga among other songs.
“She has Lady Gaga from 2013 on the move,” Matthews said with a smile. “I mean, I don’t have anything against it, I think it’s great, but maybe I update the playlist a bit.”
Marner is looking for more flow.
“I like all genres, so I’m good with anything,” said the end. “It was a lot of song changes in the middle of the songs, it wasn’t great for our DJ today.”
The playlist, Keefe said, is courtesy of Marlies forward Rich clune, who assumed responsibility for music in practice when Keefe led the bank for the Toronto AHL team.
“I would love for the players to appropriate a little,” Keefe said. “They don’t have much property even in the locker room to put on their own music and stuff, so if they want to take care of that, it would be great. We have enough things to worry about.”
In past seasons, Nazem Kadri Y Jake Gardiner it was the resident DJs of the team in Toronto, so there is an opening there and Matthews seems interested in stepping up.
“I didn’t know we were going to make music today,” Matthews said, “so I’m sure old Bean Boy will find out about the boys here in the locker room about the playlist he had.”
Before the practice began and the music began, Keefe met with the team’s leadership group. The theme: defense.
“That has been the biggest challenge,” he admitted. “We have advanced a lot offensively and we think that puts our team in a better position, there are defensive benefits just because of how much more we have had the record and we have spent much more time in the offensive zone. That really helped, but as we have seen with some of our plays recently, breaking some of the habits defensively (it’s hard). ”
In 23 games with Mike Babcock this season, the Leafs allowed 3.43 goals per start, which ranked 24th in the league. In 24 games under Keefe, the Leafs are allowing 3.13 goals per start, which ranks 19th.
“It’s not just a product of how we are playing here now,” Keefe said, “we believe that some of these things have been a problem for quite some time with some of our players and we have to find a way to break that and that is our greatest challenge and we actually had a meeting about that kind of thing this morning with our leadership group (about) just taking the next step as a team. “
A player who leads by example is Matthews. The Arizona native is known for his incredible offensive abilities, but Keefe says that what has surprised him most about the 22-year-old is how good he has been on the defensive side of the record.
“The most important thing I learned about him is that he is a very good defensive player, away from the record,” Keefe said, “and when he is engaged, the way he can track, you saw the only goal in the Winnipeg game that he got, but we have dozens of videos of him doing similar things and some of the best coverage videos of the defensive zone that we show the players here this morning, he was out there doing a job. ”
When Rasmus Sandin He arrived at Leafs training camp in September, a No. 38 sweater hung on his post.
“They gave it to me at the camp. I don’t really think about that much, but I received a little squeaking, so we’ll see if I can change maybe next year,” said the 19-year-old. said.
Sandin is the first sheet to use the number since Colin Greening in 2016. By hockey reference, the other Leafs who used No. 38 have been: Frazer McLaren (2013-14), Jay Rosehill (2010-12), Brad Leeb (2004), Yannick Tremblay (1997-1999), David Harlock (1996) and Chris Snell (1994).
What kind of squeaks is Sandin listening to?
“Only the number doesn’t look better,” he said with a smile.
Sandin was No. 8 with the Marlies and with the Swedish Team in the World Juniors. It is the same number used by his older brother, Linus Sandin. But pending UFA Jake Muzzin He owns that digit these days in Toronto.
“It would be difficult to move Jake from there,” Sandin said of the veteran.
Sandin’s next preferred option would be 14, but thanks to Dave Keon that number was retired in Toronto.
“It doesn’t bother me too much, to be honest,” Sandin said about the situation. “We will see what is open for next year.”
Muzzin skated on Wednesday for the first time since he broke his foot on December 27. The hope is that the defender will return in the first Toronto game after the recess of the stars on January 27 in Nashville.
“That’s what they talked about as being a potential target,” Keefe revealed. “Obviously, how things go from time to time will dictate that. I understand that he will stay and work during the break.”
Outside since December 21 with a concussion, Trevor Moore He was authorized for contact and practiced on the fourth line on Wednesday. His status for tomorrow’s game is unclear, but Keefe said the far left is “very close” to return.
Lines in practice on Wednesday:
Hyman – Matthews – Marner
Engvall – Tavares – Nylander
Johnsson – Kerfoot – Kapanen
Moore – Gauthier – Spezza
Timashov – Liljegren