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Malgin gets ‘crispy’ in Maple Leafs’ pre-season finale as roster comes into focus

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TORONTO — Auston Matthews called it “crispy.” Matt Murray reeled off the top-tier qualities that enabled it. Sheldon Keefe said it was simply a prime example of who Denis Malgin is.

As the Toronto Maple Leafs dominated their pre-season finale Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena — a final chance to hone their game and answer questions about their roster before the regular season arrives — it was Malgin’s display of just who he is that might’ve provided the biggest answer of all.

The reply came midway through the eventual win over the Detroit Red Wings, when the score was still knotted at 1-1. It started in Toronto’s own zone, with Malgin intercepting an errant Red Wings pass and tapping it to Alex Kerfoot, who shoveled it back to the quick-footed winger. From there, the former Florida Panther was off, racing up ice, weaving around defenders and flipping the puck to a patch of open ice before catching up to it himself and wiring it home.

It was a go-ahead goal the prospect-laden Wings couldn’t come back from. More than that, it was another statement to the Maple Leafs brass that the 25-year-old deserves a spot on the opening-night roster.

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“He had a good camp. He obviously produced. That’s a big part of who he is and what he does,” Keefe said post-game of the Olten, Switzerland native, who’s finished this pre-season with four goals to his name. “He was also just competitive, hard on the puck, forechecked when it was time to forecheck.

“I think if you’re him coming in, if you made a checklist of the things you want to get accomplished, he did a good job of accomplishing it.”

As his coach pointed out, it was more than just the highlight-reel tally that raised eyebrows on the Leafs bench Saturday night — it was Malgin’s overall dedication to the fight to make the cut.

There was no clearer example of that than in the final minutes of the third period, after Toronto’s big boys had already run the score up to 5-1, when Malgin was still out there battling along the wall, fighting to win the puck back, fighting to win his spot.

“He’s looked unbelievable all camp,” Matthews said of the dynamic winger. “Just the confidence. He’s looked strong out there. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

Added Murray: “He’s played great for us. … Great speed, great hands, good hockey sense, finishing touch. He’s a pretty impressive player.”

While Keefe made clear he and his staff have taken note, the Maple Leafs’ bench boss stopped short of confirming Malgin’s earned a spot just yet.

“I think there’s still discussions,“ Keefe said of where he and his staff are in regards to ironing out the look of their opening-night roster. “And that’s why you want to let the games play out. As I’ve talked about, there’s a number of factors at play — salary cap, injuries, waivers, all these kinds of things. There’s a lot happening.”

For a club pressed up as close to the salary cap as the Maple Leafs are, any chance of impact performances from players who earn what Malgin will this season — $750,000 — will always be welcome. The absence of John Tavares, who remains sidelined with an oblique injury, makes the need for added offence even more pressing.

Whether Malgin gets the chance to be part of that solution and remain where he skated Saturday night — beside William Nylander, on the second line — and whether he sticks with the big club for an extended stretch in 2022-23, remains to be seen. It likely depends on a number of factors out of the winger’s control. But it’s safe to say he’s done all he can to will himself into Toronto’s lineup.

As for the rest of the forward corps, the heavy hitters made clear they’re ready for the real games, Nylander wiring home a pair of goals on the night, Mitch Marner and Matthews connecting on a couple highlight-reel finishes of their own.

The more urgent question marks, as always, remain on the back end. Saturday night offered Leafs Nation one sigh of relief on that front, as veteran Jake Muzzin made his pre-season debut after holding back to handle some back discomfort.

Aside from a few early bobbles — and a brief trip to the dressing room following a stick to the face — the former Cup champ looked steady in his return.

“I thought he was excellent, really, for playing his first home game,” Keefe said of the 33-year-old. “It was good to have him there, just the impact he has on the penalty kill. I thought he and Holl [played well] — Justin Holl was outstanding today.”

The Maple Leafs still have a few days to move pieces around and settle final discussions on how exactly they’ll deploy their forwards when the regular season arrives. The blue line, though, seems more set, with Morgan Reilly and T.J. Brodie reuniting to lead the unit and Mark Giordano lining up beside young Rasmus Sandin.

The group’s first true test will come Wednesday, at the Bell Centre, against the Montreal Canadiens. Let the games begin.

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Player grades: McD and Drai massive again as Edmonton Oilers beat Montreal Canadiens – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers got off to a two-goal lead thanks to a three goal outburst by its killer power play, but then the Oilers did what they’ve done all year, let up defensively and allow goals against.

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But a thrilling goal by Darnell Nurse put Edmonton up one goal with four seconds left in the second, the key moment of the game.

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Edmonton hung on in the third for a 5-3 win, with Connor McDavid scoring the insurance goal to cap off a two goal, two assist. night.

In total, Edmonton had 13 Grade A shots, with nine 5-alarmers, Montreal ten Grade A shots, four 5-alarmers, which works out to 4.00 expected goals for the Oil, 2.83 for Montreal.

Connor McDavid, 9. Scored two goals and two assists. Took a near phantom holding penalty in the first. He set up Drai down low on RNH’s second period power play goal. Buzzed around on Edmonton’s 5-on-3 power play before setting up Draisaitl on the glorious kind of pass-and-shoot sequence that will be forever burned into the minds of Edmonton Oilers fans. He shot when the Montreal goalie Jake Allen was expecting pass, firing in Edmonton’s third goal. Took it to Warp Ten again on his breakway goal, with thrilling finish on Oil’s insurance goal.

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Leon Draisaitl, 9. One goal and three assists. Brilliant execution on the attack. Great pass to send in Hyman ten seconds into the game. He snapped a horizontal pass through the top of the crease to set up RNH for Edmonton’s power play goal early in the second. Fired home on the 5-on-3, delivering once against with his dread Executioner’s Shot. He made a few smart plays quickly giving over the puck to the Habs after a penalty call to get more time on the 5-on-3 situations. He made a typically fine pass to set up Nurse for Edmonton’s fourth goal. He won a board battle to again send off Hyman for a Grade A shot early in the third.

Zach Hyman, 7. Another solid and eventful outing. Got an early break in, but failed to drain it, then gave up the puck in the defensive slot leading to a dangerous Habs opportunity. He held his slot position and got off a 5-alarm blast early in the second on the power play. He took a nasty crosscheck to the head early in the second, drawing a five-minute penalty and game misconduct for Joel Edmundson. A great hustle play late in the second to win the puck behind the Montreal net, firing up the Virtuous Cycle leading to Edmonton’s fourth goal.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He slammed home a table top hockey goal early in the second off a Drai feed. Heck of a harpoon, that shot. Sent in Janmark with a fine pass early in the third. Was otherwise quiet on the attack.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. Maybe his most physical game of his career, with JP winning many battles. He led the team with eight hits.

Mattias Janmark, 6. He charged out fast and furious on Edmonton’s first PK, and allowed a cross-seam pass, allowing Caufiled’s power play shot off the crossbar in the first. Charged in early in the third on a partial breakaway for a 5-alarm shot.

Derek Ryan, 5. He got beat to the outside by Kaiden Guhle for a Grade A shot early in the game. He lost the PK face off, then failed to stop the pass across on a Montreal’s first period power play blast off the post. He made a key defensive play, kicking the puck out of the slot with just under two minutes left, earning a hug from Stuart Skinner. That one play pulled his mark up to a passing grade.

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Klim Kostin, 5. He came out battling hard and set up Nurse charging through the slot early in the second.

Devin Shore, 5. Flashed down the wing late in the second with Malone almost putting in the rebound. He lost the puck and a battle early in the third but Joel Armia hit the crossbar.

Dylan Holloway, 5. He made a solid check on Mike Matheson to win a battle late in the third.

Brad Malone, 5.  A lost battle and a turnover early in the caused the Oilers some defensive grief. He almost jammed home Shore’s rebound shot late in the second.

Tyler Benson, 5. Some decent hustle plays.

Darnell Nurse, 7. He turned the wrong way, allowing time and space for an outside shot, kicking off the Sequence of Pain on Dadonov’s goal. Next, he squandered his own good work on the PK, shooting the puck over the glass to take a penalty. Redeemed himself charging up the ice to snipe in a slot shot with four seconds left in the second. He played a more reasonable 22:31.

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Cody Ceci, 6. He lost focus for a second, allowing Dadonov to sneak by him for Montreal’s second goal, but was otherwise solid.

Brett Kulak, 7. Quiet game but he did his job well, keeping a clean sheet at even strength, not one major mistake on a Grade A shot against.

Tyson Barrie, 6. He got beat by Dach down the middle on a break-in shot late in the second. But kept a clean sheet at even strength.

Evan Bouchard, 6. He strangely abandoned his defensive post in the second allowing a hard Montreal shot and potential goal off the rebound. But was otherwise solid.

Philip Broberg, 7. Made a few slick defensive stops in the third, blocking a sure goal late in the game with a shot block in the crease. He’s slowly picking up his play, getting better each game. He stepped up in the n-zone early on to win the puck and send McD in on a rush, a solid and confident play.

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Stuart Skinner, 5. Not his best night, letting out big rebounds all game. He got beat by a Grade B scoring chance shot on Montreal’s first goal, not good. He gave up a rancid rebound allowing Dadonov to score out of a nothing situation. He looked back in his net getting beat by Arber Xhekaj for Montreal’s third goal. But stopped Dach’s break in goal late in the second and threw a shut-out in the third period when it counted.

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France advance to World Cup quarterfinals with record-breaking night – Sportsnet.ca

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France’s Olivier Giroud, left, celebrates with France’s Kylian Mbappe, after scoring the opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland, at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

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Ice Chips Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks healthy scratch – TSN

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Keep updated on all the injury news and roster updates from around the NHL with daily Ice Chips.


Vancouver Canucks

Forward Brock Boeser will be a healthy scratch Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji. Boeser has spent much of the past three games on the third line. 

“Sometimes tough love is tough love. I know he’s capable of being much better,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We want to win and we need him over the long haul to win. We need to be better. It could have been one of a few guys.”

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Boeser has three goals and 11 assists in 18 games this season. He will be replaced by Jake Studnicka in the lineup.

Canucks lines at practice:

Höglander-Horvat-Miller
Mikheyev-Pettersson-Kuzmenko
Joshua-Dries-Garland
Lazar-Åman-Studnicka

OEL-Bear
Hughes-Schenn
Stillman-Myers

Extras: Boeser, Dermott, Burroughs

Spencer Martin will start.


Montreal Canadiens

Jake Allen will get the start in net against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, while forward Brendan Gallagher will miss his second straight game due to a lower-body injury, Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis confirmed. 

Allen, 32, has gone 7-8-0 in 15 starts and has a 3.40 goals-against average and .898 save percentage so far this season.

Gallagher is suffering from a lower-body injury and will miss his second game in a row. The 30-year-old has three goals and five assists in 22 games in 2022-23.


Edmonton Oilers

Stuart Skinner will make his 12 start of the season for the Edmonton Oilers against the Canadiens. 

Skinner, 24, has a record of 6-5 along with a 2.91 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

Projected lineup as per Tony Brar:

Draisaitl-McDavid-Hyman
Janmark-RNH-Puljujarvi
Holloway-Malone-Benson

Nurse-Ceci
Kulak-Barrie
Broberg-Bouchard

Skinner


Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said that centre Anthony Cirelli will make his season debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Cirelli had 17 goals and 26 assists in 76 games last season.

Lines at morning skate ahead of matchup with Leafs, as per TSN’s Mark Masters:

Hagel – Point – Kucherov
Stamkos – Paul – Killorn
Namestnikov – Cirelli – Colton
Maroon – Bellemare – Perry

Hedman – Sergachev
Cole – Cernak
Bogosian – Perbix
Foote 

Vasilevskiy starts 


Calgary Flames

Projected lineup vs. Washington Capitals:

Vladar starts 

Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli
Dube-Kadri-Mangiapane
Ruzicka-Backlund-Coleman
Lucic-Rooney-Lewis

Hanifin-Andersson
Weegar-Tanev
Zadorov-Stone


Toronto Maple Leafs

Projected lineup vs. Lightning on Saturday, as per TSN’s Mark Masters:

Bunting – Matthews – Nylander 
Robertson – Tavares – Marner 
Kerfoot – Kampf – Engvall 
Aston-Reese – Holmberg – Simmonds 

Giordano – Holl 
Sandin – Liljegren 
Mete – Hollowell

Murray starts 

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