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Status of Matthews a key point for Maple Leafs heading into final week of pre-season

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One week and three pre-season video games stay.

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Following a full time off on Saturday, the Maple Leafs will get again at it with follow on Sunday earlier than a gaggle heads off to Ottawa to tackle the Senators on Monday evening.

Anticipate coach Sheldon Keefe to take out his paring knife to make cuts as soon as the back-to-back set — the Leafs play host to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday following the sport within the nation’s capital — is finished.

“The lineups which are put in place (by the opponent) are going to be extra aggressive and extra NHL-like,” Keefe mentioned. “We’re anticipating that the gamers are going to be challenged in a larger manner and that can assist give us a way of the place that separation is.

“We are going to get two much-different trying (Leafs) lineups (towards) Ottawa and Montreal. It can give us a greater indication of the place we’re at.”

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Whereas there would be the on-going jockeying for spots on the left wing and for a fourth-line function, the most important query within the last week previous to the Oct. 13 regular-season opener would be the standing of centre Auston Matthews.

Will the Leafs’ finest participant be capable to work his manner again from left wrist surgical procedure to the purpose that he can play within the last exhibition recreation, on Saturday at residence towards Ottawa?

One recreation isn’t a lot within the grand scheme, admittedly, however it could give Matthews an opportunity to get his timing down and likewise would offer a possibility to get between newcomer Nick Ritchie and Mitch Marner for the primary time.

“He has been skating rather a lot, his shot nonetheless appears to be like lethal and he has been across the guys, which is nice,” Marner mentioned. “His spirits are nonetheless excessive, and it’s one thing you need. Every time he’s again, I’m positive he’ll soar proper into the combination of issues fairly shortly.”

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SANDIN’S SIGHTS

For defenceman Rasmus Sandin, who’s about to embark on his first full season with the Leafs, the non-public aim this week isn’t a thriller.

The 21-year-old was requested to evaluate his camp by the preliminary 10 days.

“Just a little bit up and down,” Sandin mentioned. “I want to scrub some stuff up.”

Akin to?

“Transfer the puck slightly bit faster, do every thing slightly bit faster,” Sandin mentioned. “Play laborious and play robust with out the puck and preserve transferring the puck the identical manner as I’ve been, simply do it slightly faster.”

Sandin talked about the opposite day that he needs to start out doing issues “the Rasmus manner.” He elaborated, a bit, on that.

“Quite a lot of occasions since I used to be younger, I’ve been (making) some bizarre selections, regardless of if it’s hockey or outdoors of hockey,” Sandin mentioned. “However I’ve at all times believed in what I’ve been doing, and I’m going to maintain doing that. I’m attempting to go my very own manner and hopefully that shall be a great way.”

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LOOSE LEAFS

Marner didn’t appear to have a lot of an issue with the hit he took from Nick Robertson within the Blue and White scrimmage, even when it was nearly the one completed test throughout the recreation. “We’re aggressive on the market, we wish make one another higher,” Marner mentioned. “It’s what we talked about from Day 1 of camp, is being aggressive and ensuring we’re pushing one another. It’s nice to see that.” … William Nylander’s impression of Robertson: “He competes on the market and he has a depraved shot. Super expertise.” … We’ll study as soon as the Leafs’ last roster is about which gamers, if any, have been a little bit of a revelation to Keefe. Late on Friday evening, he was not tempted to call names. “There undoubtedly has been (some),” Keefe mentioned. “I’m not going to single out guys at this level. I don’t suppose it’s truthful to try this.” … The economics of the sport (also called the flat wage cap) end in some gamers getting little greater than knowledgeable tryout. In an ideal world, or one during which the cap would have elevated by a number of million {dollars} with no pandemic, a participant corresponding to ahead Nikita Gusev would have been signed. As a substitute, Gusev is with the Leafs on a tryout, and he stood out throughout the special-teams portion on Friday with a few nifty power-play objectives. You work he’s going to get a contract someplace, if not with Toronto … Sandin on the boldness of fine pal Timothy Liljegren, who, if nothing else, ought to have a clamp on the spot because the seventh defenceman: “He’s very positive of what he’s doing. Throughout practices and through video games, he has been very comfy. Making actually good performs with the puck and with out the puck, he has been taking part in laborious. He has been trying good.” … Defenceman Teemu Kivihalme, positioned on waivers on Friday, cleared on Saturday … Marner on Sandin’s ridiculous transfer throughout the shootout on Friday, when Sandin fooled goalie Michael Hutchinson with a deke to his forehand: “Hell of a transfer. Fairly silky participant.”

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