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Sports Kapanen’s struggles highlight Hyman’s importance to Leafs

19:50  08 october  2019
19:50  08 october  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Toronto Maple Leafs' Kasperi Kapanen throws stick, gets mocked by Canadiens' Max Domi

  Toronto Maple Leafs' Kasperi Kapanen throws stick, gets mocked by Canadiens' Max Domi Kapanen, 23, violated a rule that allowed the referee to automatically grant the Montreal Canadiens a penalty shot.While killing a penalty, the 23-year-old had his stick broken in two by Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry's slapshot. Kapanen was left with only the shaft and decided to toss the remainder of his tool at Petry's feet as the blueliner regained control of the puck.

Kapanen ’ s great speed and willingness to work hard on the penalty kill earned the coaching staff’ s confidence, enough to earn ice time on a line with William Leafs coach Mike Babcock mixed it up a bit for Tuesday night’ s game against the Florida Panthers, planting Kapanen on the fourth line.

Leafs ’ newest prospect Kasperi Kapanen knows he’ s no Kessel. “This year is different from last year,” said Kapanen . “I have a lot more confidence. Last year, call-ups were plentiful and meant opportunity, with the likes of William Nylander, Connor Brown and Zach Hyman making imprints.

a baseball player wearing a blue hat: Kasperi Kapanen; Toronto Maple Leafs© Provided by Rogers Media Inc Kasperi Kapanen; Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO — “Hyman’s good, eh?”

These three words from Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, spoken in the wake of Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, scream volumes.

Those who like to scour for deeper context could read it as a light jab at critics who undervalued Zach Hyman’s 2018-19 contributions to the club’s top line, featuring the more celebrated duo of Mitch Marner and John Tavares.

Others may wish to interpret it as light criticism of how Hyman’s placeholder on that trio, Kasperi Kapanen, has fared while the natural left winger finishes recovery from the torn ACL he suffered (but still skated with) during the playoffs.

Kasperi Kapanen’s ready to stick it to slow start

  Kasperi Kapanen’s ready to stick it to slow start Time to bounce back. That’s how Kasperi Kapanen and the Maple Leafs view Monday night’s game against the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. “A nice little day off yesterday (Sunday) and kind of get my mind off of hockey and I think it was good for everybody to obviously,” Kapanen said after the morning skate. “All those games you want to win and like I said, we’re just excited for today. It’s gonna be a tough game, but now we’re up for it.’ Saturday night’s 6-5 shootout loss to Montreal left a bitter taste in a lot of mouths, especially Kapanen’s whose thrown-stick gaffe led to a penalty-shot goal by Jeff Petry that erased a 4-1 Toronto lead.

Speedy Kasperi Kapanen is rapidly building his own impressive NHL highlight reel with a huge assist from some good genes. A roster crunch, coupled with Kapanen ’ s waiver-exempt status, rendered him a painless candidate for demotion. Well, painless for the Leafs .

Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott might be NHL ready, but appear bound for return AHL Marlies. Lamoriello has long professed that he’d rather call up a young player too late rather than too early. Both Dermott and Kapanen put a positive spin on what has to be a frustrating development for them.

At bare minimum, take it as Babcock’s guarantee that Hyman’s old job will be right there waiting for him when his knee does get the green light from Toronto’s cadre of doctors, specialists and sports scientists.

Hyman, who has poured himself into rehabilitation since undergoing reconstructive ligament surgery in April, rejoined practice with the main group last week and feels encouraged by the progress.

While no one within the Leafs’ walls will say his readiness for game action has been accelerated — GM Kyle Dubas has cautiously estimated a November return — that’s certainly the player’s hope.

“You don’t realize how much you’ll miss it until you’re out for a bit,” says Hyman, who’s been watching games from the press box. “It’s hard to watch because you want to be in there and playing, but it’s easier to watch when you’re winning.”

Bruce Arthur: Blues, Leafs go back to the grind, knowing it’s the style that will be important months from now

  Bruce Arthur: Blues, Leafs go back to the grind, knowing it’s the style that will be important months from now Bruce Arthur: Blues, Leafs go back to the grind, knowing it’s the style that will be important months from now“It’s all about winning the Cup, the Stanley Cup, to be candid,” Rielly said.

Kapanen played for KalPa in the 2014-15 season and had 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 41 games before appearing in four games with Wilkes-Barre of the American Hockey League. On July 1, 2015, Kapanen was acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the

Kasperi Kapanen (born 23 July 1996) is a Finnish professional ice hockey forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The last couple contests, both blown-lead home losses, have been more of a strain on the eyes. And the numbers through this small four-game sample, particularly at even-strength, have underscored Hyman’s chemistry with his linemates.

Over that span, Marner and Tavares have combined for just three even-strength points total. Kapanen, a 20-goal scorer gifted with an opportunity to start the season in the top six, has zeroes across the board.

He’s a team-worst minus-4 and the only Leafs regular still searching for a point.

“We’ve just got to figure it out over time because we need them to be dominant, as you know,” Babcock said. “Everyone’s just got to figure it out and keep working and grinding.”

Kapanen’s early offensive struggles have been amplified by a pair of critical gaffes in his own zone.

Saturday, it was his thrown stick that led to Montreal’s game-tying penalty shot and Max Domi calling him an “idiot” and a “moron” during a giddy chirp that went viral.

From kids to captains, the Tavares-Stamkos rivalry resumes at an interesting time

  From kids to captains, the Tavares-Stamkos rivalry resumes at an interesting time If John Tavares — with no goals after four games — needs any kind of a spark, maybe facing an old friend/foe in Steven Stamkos will do the trick when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The hockey prodigies from the Greater Toronto Area — Stamkos from Markham, Tavares from Mississauga — went first overall in back-to-back drafts (Stamkos in 2008, Tavares in 2009). It’s one of the NHL’s understated rivalries, not quite at the level of Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin or Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews. But Tavares and Stamkos have always kept tabs on each other.

Kapanen has scored just once over his past 19 outings and added only two assists. The Maple Leafs winger scored twice – including the overtime winner – in his second NHL postseason appearance in Game 2 against the Washington Capitals two years ago.

Kapanen is no lock to make the team even if his performance as a late-season call-up and through the playoffs suggested he is NHL-ready. Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said in an interview Tuesday the team is deep with veterans and prospects and he would be in no rush to move a Marlie to the Leafs .

“I don’t think it’s anything personal. It’s just hockey. Two guys passionate about the game. I’m sure it’s entertaining for everyone else,” Kapanen said.

“I know what to do. There’s not much to it. It’s still hockey. I know how to play hockey. I just have to get into the groove.”

Monday, it was a savvy Blues defenceman activating way down low to the left of Frederik Andersen’s crease during a cycle, sneaking away from Kapanen (his check) and snapping the game-winner.

“It’s my guy,” Kapanen said. “I should’ve seen he was going that low.”

“Chief (coach Craig Berube) brought that in and we’re moving a lot more on the blue line,” Pietrangelo explains of the set play, knowing full well it catches defending wingers off-guard. “It’s frustrating (for them). It’s even tough for the D when the opposing D’s coming in. The more movement we have, the better we are.”

Ironically, the same goes for Kapanen, whose speed was celebrated on the bottom six but has yet to establish himself as a top-of-the-lineup threat.

“He’s one of the faster guys in the league,” says Marner, who admits his line hasn’t quite gelled. “He creates a lot of pressure on D-men when you get it in, and it’s something we’re trying to work to our advantage.”

John Tavares confident the goals will come as Leafs prepare to host Lightning

  John Tavares confident the goals will come as Leafs prepare to host Lightning John Tavares will be looking to break out of his goalless drought when the Maple Leafs meet the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night in a matchup of two of the Eastern Conference’s most skilled teams. Tavares, who led the Leafs last season with a career-high 47 goals, has three assists over the first four games of the season but has yet to find the back of the net. He’s not worried. “There were times (early in my career) when I used to get more frustrated,” the captain said at the Leafs’ morning skate. “But now, just focus on doing things right, trust your abilities, and trust that it will come and they (pucks) will start going in.

There’ s no question Hyman ’ s presence in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup is valuable. Hyman brings grit and energy every shift and has time and time again shown himself to be one of the better forechecking forwards on this young Leafs squad.

DETROIT — Kasperi Kapanen isn’t just down a teammate because of William Nylander’ s ongoing contract dispute with the Toronto Maple Leafs . It is a touch ironic, then, that Kapanen ’ s best opportunity as an NHL player can be tied directly to Nylander’ s absence from the team.

Babcock argues that the mere fact the Leafs are now playing Kapanen 18 minutes a night and throwing him over the boards on both special teams should be evidence enough they have faith in the 23-year-old.

“The great thing about this game is that when you play good, you get to play more. I think it’s just a process for the guy,” Babcock said.

“Last year he started on the fourth line, and he played in the playoffs on the second line. Anything he did, we liked. Now, we’re evaluating him, and he’s evaluating himself. That’s the problem with being a good player — once you set the bar, you’ve got to keep raising it.

“He’s playing with different players, but just because you’re playing with different players doesn’t mean you’ve got to change things. He’s got to be at the net, he’s got to get pucks back for them on the forecheck, on retrieval races.”

To be fair, Kapanen is working with just one full season of NHL experience and has been thrown onto his unnatural left wing, though he won’t use that as an excuse.

“Not saying our line’s been bad, but we haven’t been at our full potential — at least I haven’t been. Just gotta pick it up, play the right way, and good things will happen,” Kapanen said.

“My own game hasn’t been there yet.”

Kapanen is owning his mistakes, which is a good thing.

But he’s also wearing his frustration. Quick with a quip when his spirits are high, he’s been decidedly downbeat the last few days and says he appreciated Sunday’s day off to free his mind of hockey.

He’ll have another day off Tuesday, either to dwell or forget.

“We don’t blame anyone when we lose,” Marner reminds.

“Kappy, he’s going to continue to progress,” says Hyman, encouragingly.

The coach’s favourite left winger doesn’t want Kapanen to do his best Hyman impersonation. The Finn, Hyman figures, is better off just being the best version of his edgy, speedy self.

“We didn’t talk about it much. He kinda just does his own thing. We’re different players, so he’s going to do his thing,” Hyman says.

“Your role doesn’t necessarily change with whatever line you’re on. You just do what you do best and complement your linemates with what you do.”

A question has been raised, though: In the interim, is Kapanen the best complement to Marner and Tavares?

Marner, Tavares explode for Leafs vs. Wild after refreshing lineup tweak .
While it would be out of line to state there was a cause-and-effect relationship to the four unanswered goals the Leafs hung on the Wild and the flip of Trevor Moore onto the Tavares-Marner line, there was most certainly a correlation. The post Nationals sweep Cardinals in NLCS, advance to 1st World Series appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.Until Tuesday night’s decisive 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top line, run by John Tavares and/or Mitch Marner (depending on the night or your perspective), had been taking some mild criticism in these parts.

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