Gabriel a force in Maple Leafs debut, hopes to stick with team

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When Kurtis Gabriel’s energetic night at Scotiabank Area was reviewed, Sheldon Keefe had a quip in his hip pocket.


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“I’m glad he scored so he might come out of his shell,” teased the coach.

Gabriel has been something however quiet since becoming a member of the Leafs this summer season. In simply 10:21 of ice time in Saturday’s 4-1 pre-season win over Montreal, he led the group with 4 hits, put Canadiens defender Alexander Romanov into the rink-side analyst’s seat head-first and was an help away from a Gordie Howe hat trick after boxing Brandon Braddock and hustling to strip goalie Michael McNiven for an empty-netter.

“That’s what he does, a bodily man, a vocal man,” Keefe stated of the NHL journeyman’scandidacy for a fourth line position. “When he’s not taking part in, he’s engaged within the sport and getting on his teammates to do this, too.”

That spirit hasn’t been sufficient for the third-rounder to stay with the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him, New Jersey or his final cease in San Jose. However on the age of 28 and working out of possibilities, a stint with the Newmarket native’s dwelling group could possibly be good timing. These Leafs are extra well-known for ability than metal.


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“It’s loopy the way it’s labored out, to be a part of this group and the timing of the place it’s at,” Gabriel stated. “I’ve performed in opposition to them, however to be a part of it (both on the group, the perimeter or beginning with the Marlies) is such an honour.”

Gabriel was requested if his scrap was simply all the way down to being carried away within the second of his dwelling debut, even when it was simply an exhibition sport.

“It wasn’t my finest, however Saturday evening’s all proper for combating, I used to be listening to that music (within the rink) earlier than the sport. I’ve performed with Braddock and in opposition to him too, however so long as I’m getting guys to return after me, that’s the purpose.”

Gabriel, whose linemates had been Marlies Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Wealthy Clune, is shortly making pals.

“Nice to see KG get on the board,” stated captain John Tavares. “I do know simply how a lot he places in every single day, the satisfaction in his preparation, the depth he brings and the way dangerous he needs to make a distinction.”


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Sunday was a day without work and presumably, the Leafs will use Monday’s rematch on the Bell Centre to get Mitch Marner, and Nick Ritchie their first sport motion.

That’s two-thirds of the primary line Keefe needed to experiment with earlier than Auston Matthews determined to have wrist surgical procedure in August. Adam Brooks performed within the center the primary three days of camp. Additionally held again Saturday had been the 2 principal goalies, Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek, top-six defencemen Morgan Rielly, Justin Holl and Travis Dermott and secondary forwards Ondrej Kase, Wayne Simmonds and PTO Nikita Gusev.

The visiting Leafs face the identical problem because the Habs, a morning follow, flight andsport. Montreal ahead Nick Suzuki wasn’t too anxious about Saturday’s end result, given these journey situations.


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“It seemed (precisely) like we flew within the afternoon and performed our first exhibition sport. I assumed our third interval was fairly good, getting our legs beneath us. We gave them push again.”

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However there was unsettling information for the Canadiens on Sunday when younger star Cole Caufield was pulled from an intrasquad sport in warmups, due to an harm suffered in opposition to the Leafs. He’s listed as day-to-day The Habs are already with out Carey Value (knee), Shea Weber (numerous accidents) and Mike Hoffman (decrease physique).     


Early days in fact, however Keefe can take some positives from the primary camp exercises and Saturday’s outcomes.

The sport featured hustle from new guys Gabriel, Michael Bunting and Josh Ho-Sang, a power-play purpose and good total particular groups, a 32-17 shot benefit, two good assists from William Nylander and an lively defence.


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Two first-period kills impressed the coach after Saturday’s squad spent only a few minutes on the subject at morning skate. However Keefe and Tavares lamented the group taking its foot off the fuel after constructing a lead. Montreal ended the evening forward on takeaways and face-off wins.


Whereas Gabriel stakes his declare to a job, ex-Leaf goalie Curtis McElhinney introduced his retirement Saturday at age 38. McElhinney’s loss through waivers broke up a suitabletandem with Frederik Andersen at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, an imbalance probably not mounted till Campbell arrived … Concern was expressed for goalie Ian Scott who changed a pointy Michael Hutchinson for the third interval, however performed simply 4:23 earlier than re-injuring his groin. That situation is among the many setbacks for the 22-year-old draft choose the previous couple of seasons. “Sadly, seems like he’ll miss a while,” Keefe stated. “It’s a troublesome state of affairs. He’d labored his manner again, was feeling adequate to be right here right this moment (promoted for the Montreal sport when Joseph Woll was banged up in Friday’s follow) and had an incredible save to start out that had our guys leaping out of their seats. We really feel for him.” … Winger Pierre Engvall (hip) was absent within the Group 2 exercise on Saturday … As he soaked up the long-absent fan environment Saturday, Keefe took time to thank “everybody throughout the province who’ve finished the appropriate issues and brought care of themselves to get thus far” with protocols and vaccinations … Ilya Mikheyev missed a breakaway, an issue final season, however scored within the bonus post-game shootout.



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