Sports Leafs’ dynamic duo of Matthews and Nylander victimizes Lightning

16:02  13 february  2018
16:02  13 february  2018 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Mitch Marner is not a prospect

  Mitch Marner is not a prospect ***ImagePlaceholder*** https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/XMwO2N_V10F6RVbrYTMmA1wR5y8=/0x0:3453x1942/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/58570409/usa_today_10579246.0.jpg Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports When you make your “pick and a prospect” fantasy trades, it helps if you first know what a prospect is. It’s that time of the year again! It’s time for fantasy trades, trade speculation, trade rumours and arguments about all of the above. You need to know the players on the scorecard before you start making deals, though.One of the stock NHL trade deadline deals is a pick and a prospect for a rental.

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TORONTO – The best-laid plans by the best defenceman on the NHL’s best team — even those can be laid to waste by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ searing-hot duo of Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

“We’ll do our best to shut them down tonight,” Victor Hedman vowed Monday, before his Tampa Bay Lightning came up just a tad short in what both Eastern Conference powers categorized as a measuring-stick game.

“[Matthews] is a dynamic goal-scorer. Very shifty. He’s a big guy who’s strong on the puck, an unbelievable talent. That first line with him and William is a dynamic duo, and they’ve got [Zach] Hyman who’s a big body who goes into the corner to get the puck for them. Big first line that’s done some damage.”

Marner with five points, Leafs beat Senators

  Marner with five points, Leafs beat Senators Marner with five points, Leafs beat SenatorsMarner became the first Leafs skater to record five points in a game since Tomas Kaberle, who did it on Oct. 26, 2009.

Despite getting outshot and out-chanced by Tampa, it was the Leafs who out-damaged their opponents in a 4-3 thriller that could’ve gone either way.

“I thought it was anyone’s game,” Steven Stamkos lamented. “Two skilled teams that can put the puck in the net and, tonight, don’t need a lot of chances to do it. They can play a game where one team makes a mistake and the other team pounces.”

Super sophomores Matthews and Nylander — who rank one-two in Leafs scoring and game-winners — were the pouncers Stamkos was referring to.

Each registered three points in orchestrating Toronto’s early 3-0 lead. Matthews won an offensive-zone draw back to Jake Gardiner and popped open long enough to get the puck back and set up Nylander for a one-kneed one-timer from the right circle that zinged by Andrei Vasilevskiy’s short side in Period 1.

Leafs’ Nazem Kadri enjoying offensive resurgence with Mitch Marner on his wing

  Leafs’ Nazem Kadri enjoying offensive resurgence with Mitch Marner on his wing It seems Nazem Kadri is always going to be front and centre with the Maple Leafs, one way or another.He was surrounded by media after the Leafs’ 6-3 win over Ottawa on Saturday, in part because he is one of the better quotes in the dressing room. But he was also in the middle of what might have been the most dominating performance by a Leafs line this season.Kadri and wingers Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau combined for 10 points while posting ridiculous numbers in terms of possession, shots and shot attempts. The line had better than 80-per-cent puck control while on the ice at even strength and produced a combined 26 shot attempts.

It was Matthews, again, winning a puck battle and springing Nylander for a partial breakaway from the defensive zone early in the second, and Nylander again beat the Vezina frontrunner on his blocker side. The pair then combined to assist on a Jake Gardiner strike. Tampa would crawl back but never seize the lead.

“When we break out fast and just play fast, we don’t let them set up. We’re able to get the puck and control it a bit more,” Matthews said. “I thought we skated really well and put pressure on their D and didn’t give their good players too much time and space.”

On the whole, the Leafs’ end bore the brunt of the action, but not with Matthews and Nylander on the ice. They ranked one-two in possession with 59% and 56% Corsi marks, respectively.

More impressive, this puck-hoarding is coming against the opposition’s top six, as coach Mike Babcock isn’t shying away from giving the Matthews line the hard assignments previously reserved for Nazem Kadri’s shutdown line.

Matt Martin is done as a Maple Leaf, so what do they do with him?

  Matt Martin is done as a Maple Leaf, so what do they do with him? ***ImagePlaceholder*** https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/7p0oicu_edK-RGlvtA4EY-Lc4Wg=/0x0:3703x2083/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/58657401/usa_today_9229563.0.jpg Everyone loved Martin on Long Island Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports It appears that the team has moved on halfway through a four year deal. In 31 Thoughts last week, Elliotte Friedman dropped this line: I also think the Maple Leafs would keep money to help Matt Martin find a new home. No doubt they have checked with the Islanders.

“We felt either group could do it, and it gave better flow off the bench,” the coach explained.

The lone blemish on the Leafs’ current 8-1 stretch — the best hockey they’ve played all season — came two Saturdays ago in Boston, where Matthews’ line was essentially owned by Patrice Bergeron’s unit. Don’t think that didn’t fuel him.

“He usually bounces right back,” Kadri said.

Over the past nine outings — the days of the optimal forward lines — Matthews has 11 points. Nylander has 12.

“We’ve found a rhythm, and this is what we want to stick to in the future,” Nylander said.

As efficient with his blade as he is with his words, the 21-year-old only needed two shots to score twice.

That the Matty and Willy Show clicks so well and can flow both ways makes us wonder why the stars were ever separated, or if they will be again. Both forwards can set ’em up and knock ’em down — for all his sniping prowess, Nylander has 17 more assists than he does goals.

Does Babcock eventually tear them apart in an effort to mould Nylander into the centre he’ll likely lose in Tyler Bozak?

That’s a question for another season.

The Optimist/Pessimist Take On The Leafs Signing John Tavares

  The Optimist/Pessimist Take On The Leafs Signing John Tavares ***ImagePlaceholder*** https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/g4LG7tuO0GtlzCzJ13oWRGPah-o=/0x291:3000x1979/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/58650229/915964196.jpg.0.jpg Can the Leafs land a second franchise centre? Will Lighthouse Hockey try to kill us for writing this? As regular readers will know, I sometimes split my Leafs’ fan brain into its optimistic, sunny, everything-is-awesome portion and the pessimistic, battle-scarred, everything-is-going-to-shit half. Today they’re taking on one of the game’s greatest stars: should—can—the Leafs sign John Tavares this summer?Let’s Meet JohnPessimist: God, I hate Leafs fans.

For now, Leafs fans can enjoy the highlights, retweet the gifs, and Tampa can watch more tape.

“They have a lot of speed, got some good breaks and made some nice plays. They have good speed under their feet and can score goals. We have to do a better job of eliminating that,” said Hedman.

“Those two guys are two [of the tops] in this league, so next time we play them, we have to make sure we shut them down better.”

On the surface, pouring in three points while knocking off the NHL’s leaders with their defence at full health is no big deal to Matthews. But you have to imagine he relished this one after his frustration in Boston.

“It’s just another win. We expect to win every night, doesn’t matter who you play,” Matthews said.

“When you play the best team in the league, you’ve got to bring your A-game.”

Leafs’ Auston Matthews shows he can put foot down in defensive end .
Coaches love it when players block shots. They love it even more when star players make that sacrifice with the game on the line, believing it will inspire more selflessness among the team.But when Auston Matthews blocked a slapshot with his left foot from about three feet in the dying seconds of Toronto’s 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers, Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock sounded as if he might like to add an asterisk to the whole shot-blocking mantra.“You want to block shots, but I don’t think we want it going off his heel like it did,” Babcock said Wednesday after practice. “It’s one of those things. There’s a price to be paid to win.

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