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Toronto Maple Leafs plan to grind their way to more offence in Edmonton Oilers rematch – TSN



TSN Toronto Reporter Mark Masters reports on the Maple Leafs, who practised at Ford Performance Centre on Thursday ahead of Friday’s rematch against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Leafs did a good job limiting Connor McDavid and Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl at even strength on Wednesday night​, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Oilers. ​​
“It’s tough,” said defenceman Jake Muzzin. “They got good players. You got to focus in on them and take away their game but, on​ the flip side, we got to focus on us too and make plays and maybe last night we focused a little too much on defending. I don’t think so. We got to continue doing what we’​re doing, but get a little harder, get more pucks to the net, bodies to the net.”
Following the game on Wednesday, Auston Matthews suggested Toronto played it too safe. 
“We got to play to win, not to contain two guys,” the centre said. 
The Leafs had the edge in shots (6-4), shot attempts (9-6)​ and goals (1-0) in the 12 minutes that Matthews and McDavid shared the ice at even strength, but ultimately fell 3-1. The Oilers benefited from a flukey bounce on their first goal before striking on the power play and adding an empty netter. ​
“Last night was a great example of how we were able to not get frustrated and not crack defensively,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I thought we stayed with it throughout and that gave us a chance to win the game even though we’re down 1-0 for the vast majority of the game. We stayed with it and that shows the discipline that we have that way.”
The Leafs have made improving defensively a top priority this season with an emphasis on limiting rush chances against.
“We need to find the balance,” said winger Zach Hyman after Thursday’s practice. “Just because we’re defending well doesn’t mean we can’t be attacking and playing well in the O-zone and taking the puck to the net … We need to attack the net a lot more than we have been. We can do a better job of getting to the inside.”
The Leafs have been outscored 9-7 in five-on-five play so far this season and Keefe has urged his players to push the pace on offence.  
“We have to really work and grind our way to getting some chances,” Keefe said. “When I say grind, it is not all about chipping and chasing and all of that. It is about challenging defencemen, moving your feet, competing for space, pushing them back and creating space for your teammates. It’s being connected and supporting the puck.”

Leafs aim to balance offence with improved defence

The Leafs discuss the importance of finding balance in their game by continuing to attack on offence, but making sure to maintain sound defence each and every night.

Generating offence will be even harder if Matthews misses Friday’s game. The 23-year-old left the ice before practice started after consulting with head athletic therapist Paul Ayotte. 
“No real update other than he wasn’t feeling great today coming off of the game yesterday,” said Keefe. “He is just going to take the rest of the day here and see how he is for tomorrow.”
Matthews logged 24 minutes and 14 seconds of ice time against the Oilers. 

Keefe on Matthews leaving practice early: ‘He just wasn’t feeling great’

After Auston Matthews left Thursday’s practice early, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe says the star forward “just wasn’t feeling great” coming off Wednesday night’s game against the Oilers.

Joe Thornton left Wednesday’s game after taking a hit from Josh Archibald in the third period. 
“He’s definitely going to miss some time,” Keefe said. “It is not a day-to-day thing.”

Just before the injury occurred, Keefe replaced Thornton with Hyman on the line with Matthews and Mitch Marner. 
“I like Hyman playing in that spot,” said Keefe. “Obviously, we used that a lot yesterday and will continue to use it at times.”
But at Thursday’s practice it was Jimmy Vesey who took top-line reps as Hyman skated with John Tavares and William Nylander
“With Matthews and Marner and the way they’re playing, they’re able to drive a line together and make it hard on the other team and it allows us to use our depth throughout the lineup,” Keefe explained. “I think Hyman can bring an extra boost to JT and Will.”
After producing at least four shots in each of the first four games, Tavares had just one against the Oilers. Nylander had two. 
“They’re two guys I’m really familiar with and I’m excited to get at it with them,” said Hyman. “I don’t know how much I played with them together, but I’ve played with them on different lines and there’s been some great chemistry with each of them so I’m excited to continue that.”
Wayne Simmonds moved up to the third line skating alongside Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Kerfoot. 
“It’s going to be great,” said Kerfoot. “He’s really good with the puck down low so I think we just got to get it deep and work them down low. He’s really good around the net, really good behind the net protecting pucks. He’s a big body and we can use that to get open around him and use our speed to open things up a bit.”

How the Leafs are juggling lines without Jumbo

With Joe Thornton out, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe shares his thought process behind his decisions to juggle the lines ahead of Friday night’s game against the Oilers.

In a lineup littered with new faces and changing combinations, Muzzin and Justin Holl have been the one constant. They played together most of last season and put forward a sturdy effort against the Oilers on Wednesday night. 
“He’s a little more confident this year,” Muzzin noted of his partner. “We’re talking it out, coming up with plans against different guys on different teams.”
Despite being 28, the late-blooming Holl only has one full NHL season under his belt. 
“We can be a little better with the puck,” noted Muzzin. “If we’re a little cleaner, a little quicker then we can defend less. It’s an area we’ve been focused in on and trying to get better at.”

The entertainment value on Wednesday night left a lot to be desired, but Frederik Andersen didn’t mind the view from Toronto’s net. 
“I saw two teams that definitely locked it down pretty good defensively,” the goalie said. “I thought both teams did a really good job of that. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t go our way, but just a few tough bounces.”
Andersen is starting to get in more of a rhythm after allowing nine goals in his first two starts. He has stopped 46 of 49 shots (.939) in his last two outings. 
“The last couple games, I settled my game down a little bit,” Andersen said. “Just focused a lot on tracking and moving efficiently. That’s been good. They’ve been playing great in front of me as well making things simple and that’s going to help us eventually down the road. I know the offence will come so that’s not any concern.”

Following the loss on Wednesday night, Keefe fumed about the three penalties his team had taken. 
​”We had a hold, a high stick, a trip,” the coach said. “These are careless penalties that the other team is not taking.” 
The Leafs lead the league in penalties taken (24) entering Thursday’s games. They have drawn 19 calls and that minus-five differential is tied for 26th in the NHL. 
“We had a couple of power plays. We had a chance to score on those and didn’t,” Keefe noted. “We took some careless ones there that stalled our game even more. A power play like that is going to break through eventually. We gave them too many opportunities.”
The Oilers had the most potent power play in the NHL last season, but started slow this season. After going 0/10 in two losses to the Canadiens, they snapped out of the drought on Wednesday as Draisaitl​​ scored the game-winning goal on the man advantage. 
“We got to continue getting up-ice pressure,” said Muzzin. “I thought we did a good job last night. A couple reads down low that maybe we can get better at, but other than that pretty good … The best way to defend it is to stay out of the box.”

Masters: Keefe didn’t like Leafs’ careless penalties, felt lack of fans for first time

Mark Masters joins SportsCentre to take a closer look at Wednesday’s head-to-head matchup between Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, and discuss what the Leafs have to do against the Oilers on Friday as they look to avenge the loss.

Lines at Leafs practice on Thursday: 
Vesey – Brooks – Marner 
Nylander – Tavares – Hyman
Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Simmonds
Barabanov – Engvall – Spezza 
Rielly – Brodie 
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin – Bogosian
Dermott – Lehtonen

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Oilers pledge to be harder to play against in rematch vs. Maple Leafs –



EDMONTON — How perfect were the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday?

Well, they didn’t take a single penalty, and they shut out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 minus their best player (Auston Matthews) and with backup goalie Jack Campbell between the pipes.

“They played such a good game; they were so solid everywhere,” said Connor McDavid, when asked on Monday how his team managed not to get even a single powerplay for the first time all season. “They were never in a desperate situation where they needed to hook or hold a guy. Part of that is us not going hard enough to the net or making enough plays. Another part is them just playing so well and being in the right position all of the time.

“Kind of weird to not get a powerplay. But you’ve got to give a lot of the credit to them. They did a lot of things right.”

On Monday, the Leafs will go down their goaltending ladder a spot, while Edmonton starts Mikko Koskinen, part of a 50-50 situation in the Oilers goal.

Leafs-Oilers, Round 2. Here’s what you need to know:

A change on the blue line

Minor changes in the Oilers lineup, but one that will make a lot of fans happy as youngster Evan Bouchard looks to draw in, with Kris Russell coming out.

The issue here for Dave Tippett is, Russell is a penalty killer, and one of three left-shot defencemen. Bouchard does not kill penalties, and his presence makes four right-shot D-men in Edmonton’s lineup.

Judging by what we saw at the morning skate Monday, the 21-year-old Bouchard will play the left side next to Ethan Bear.

“Bouch has practised on the left side and played some left side in junior. He’s a guy that we’ve kind of earmarked (as a guy) who can go over there,” said Tippett, who is cognisant of asking a young player to play his off side. “He’s comfortable with it. If he wasn’t comfortable with it, it would be a tougher decision.”

Here are your Oilers lines and pairings Monday:

Nugent-Hopkins, McDavid, Puljujarvi
Kahun, Draisaitl, Yamamoto
Ennis, Khaira, Archibald
Chiasson, Haas, P.Russell

Nurse, Barrie
Jones, Larsson
Bouchard, Bear


Two questions for Leafs

As for Toronto, there are two burning issues here: Will Auston Mathews play? And who starts in goal?

While head coach Sheldon Keefe called it “a game-time decision” we suspect no for Matthews, who practiced long after the regulars had left the morning skate on Monday. As for the goalie, Michael Hutchinson spent the practice in the starter’s net, while Campbell did not practice on Sunday or Monday.

We know that coaches don’t like to change a winning lineup, but Keefe would make an exception where Mathews is concerned, no doubt.

“I think we would always find room for Auston,” said Keefe.

Like every NHL coach, he’s had to take a new look at roster management this season, with a lot of games in a short period, and a super-sized roster full of guys who want to play.

“No matter how you play as a team you’re always evaluating what’s happening,” Keefe said. “We’ve shown throughout the season we want to utilize our depth and keep people involved with our group. I don’t think, especially with injuries and such that we’ve ever ruled anybody out to being in the mix and we have to continue to balance that. Certainly, when you come off a good game and you’re feeling good, you want to give the group another opportunity to go.”

Here is how we suspect the Leafs will line up Monday:

Thornton, Tavares, Marner
Barbanov, Kerfoot, Nylander
Hyman, Engvall, Mikheyev
Petan, Boyd, Spezza

Rielly, Brodie
Muzzin, Holl
Dermott, Bogosian


Can Leafs silence McDavid again?

The Leafs held Connor McDavid to zero points on a minus-three night for the Oilers captain on Saturday. What are the chances they handle the Oilers as easily tonight?

“I think we’ve been all right in games where we’re coming off of losses,” said McDavid, whose Oilers are 6-2 in the next game after a loss this season.

The Maple Leafs are ready for a renewed effort from a Edmonton team that fell to six points behind Toronto in the North, and doesn’t want to let them get away.

“They’re going to come back hard,” Zach Hyman said. “I think this whole season series we’ve had against them has been back and forth. They’re going to come out with their best and we’re going to be ready for that. It’ll be a really good game.”

Truly, the season series now sits at 3-2 for Toronto, with the teams splitting games in Toronto, then again in Edmonton, before opening this three-game set on Saturday.

Toronto made it hard on McDavid to find his trademark speed through the neutral zone Saturday, playing the middle of the ice to perfection. He knows what the solution is, and we would predict a more concerted effort from No. 97 tonight.

“Just continuing to fight through some of those checks. Continuing to skate puts guys on their heels,” McDavid said. “And when things aren’t going to happen through the middle you put pucks in and try to get ‘em back, and start rolling around in the offensive zone.

“It’s nothing new from what I’ve faced. I have to be better, I guess.”

Said Tippett: “There are situations in the game that dictate. When you’re on transition, you get openings. If you’re facing real tight structure, you have to read and react. That’s part of the game.”

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FTB: Starting March with stories from the Maple Leafs Sunday practice – Pension Plan Puppets



The Toronto Maple Leafs skated on Sunday ahead of their Monday night game against the Edmonton Oilers. These were the lines they ran. Newcomers Timothy Liljegren and Kenny Agostino were present.

In net, Jack Campbell was given a day off following his shut out. He is apparently still dealing with some injury effects and this was a maintenance day to keep him on a path towards healing. Frederik Andersen participated in practice, but is unlikely to go tonight, that will probably be Campbell or Hutchinson.

Auston Matthews was at practice, but isn’t expected to play for a second straight game (neither is McDavid, bahaha! I’m kidding, please don’t score five on us).

KHL playoffs begin today.

Various Leafs and Branches

We are Back to Excited when talking about the North Division. Thanks, LOLHABS. | by: Arvind

Bask in the win just one more time. | by: Seldo

The Leafs are trying to build an energy line behind the top six. | by: Mark Zwolinski at Toronto Star

The PWHPA’s Abby Roque and Team New Hampshire beat Team Minnesota 4-3 on Sunday night. | by: Marisa Ingemi at Sportsnet

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Sunday best: Tiger Woods thanks golfers for red shirt tribute –



Tiger Woods offered a heartfelt thanks to his fellow golfers for their tribute on Sunday, where many donned the 15-time major champion’s signature Sunday red and black for the final round.

Woods suffered a car accident on Tuesday and was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with a fractured right leg and a shattered ankle, calling into question the future of the 45-year-old’s historic career.

An 82-time PGA Tour winner, Woods famously wears a red shirt and black trousers on Sundays.

“It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts,” Woods said in a Twitter post shortly after the conclusion of the World Golf Championships event in Florida.

WATCH | Golfers pay tribute to Tiger Woods by wearing red shirts:

Various PGA Tour players at the World Golf Championship event in Bradenton, Florida wear red and black in support of golfer Tiger Woods. 0:25

“To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”

With his win on Sunday, rising star Collin Morikawa joined Woods as the only two golfers to win a major championship and a World Golf Championship event before turning 25 years old.

Morikawa, 24, took time after his victory to thank Woods directly.

“Tiger means everything to me,” Morikawa said.

“He had the crash and thankfully he’s alright and hopefully he has a quick and great recovery, but I don’t think we say thank you enough.

“So, I want to say thank you to Tiger. Sometimes you lose people too early. Kobe, I lost my grandpa about a month ago, and you don’t get to say thank you enough.

“So thank you, guys.”

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