Sports

Well-rested Maple Leafs emphasizing good start against busy Sharks

Auston Matthews might be in quest of his 2 hundredth NHL purpose

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Watch out for the Sharks.

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That’s the strategy the Maple Leafs are taking in preparation for taking part in host to San Jose on Friday evening at Scotiabank Area.

The Sharks, within the midst of a five-game journey, have received every of their first three video games to start out the 2021-22 common season.

“They’re enjoying with plenty of confidence, they’ve discovered their crew identification early and are rolling with it,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe stated following an elective morning skate.

“They’re enjoying actually sound crew defence, enjoying in teams of 5 everywhere in the rink, and their particular groups have been excellent.”

Nonetheless, there received’t be an excuse for the Leafs to not have vitality from the opening faceoff. Toronto (2-1-1) might be well-rested, having not performed since dropping in extra time towards the visiting New York Rangers on Monday evening. The Sharks are finishing a back-to-back set after profitable in Ottawa towards the Senators on Thursday and might be enjoying for the third time in 4 nights.

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“Anytime you get a crew on a again to again, it might theoretically make sense that you simply’re the more energizing crew, you’re going to have extra soar,” Leafs captain John Tavares stated. “Typically these issues don’t all the time work out that approach, however no query, our mindset coming off a number of days right here and with their busy schedule, we need to come out and make it a tough evening for them.”

Michael Hutchinson will begin in purpose for the Leafs for the uncommon 6 p.m. begin, with Jack Campbell getting the decision on Saturday evening in Pittsburgh towards the Penguins.

Hutchinson’s begin might be his first recreation within the NHL since April 4, when he made 32 saves in a Leafs win in Calgary.

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Leafs centre Auston Matthews might be in quest of his 2 hundredth NHL purpose in his second recreation again after recovering from low season wrist surgical procedure. Matthews dominated on Monday towards New York, registering eight pictures on purpose and 16 makes an attempt.

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“He’s similar to his regular self,” Tavares stated. “It’s spectacular, his potential to be so impactful instantly. He’s proven up to now, coming off different accidents, that he’s extraordinarily diligent and meticulous with the way in which he goes about his enterprise and the way in which he works and will get himself able to play. It’s nothing shocking. It shouldn’t be too lengthy earlier than these alternatives are going into the online.”

The Leafs will fly to Pittsburgh after the sport, marking their first journey to the U.S. since March 2020. The additional hour with the sooner begin on Friday evening will give the Leafs extra time in clearing Customs, which they are going to do in Pittsburgh, for the primary time through the pandemic.

Toronto’s three-game journey will proceed in Carolina on Monday and Chicago on Wednesday.

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Goaltender Petr Mrazek, in the meantime, has been skating this week in his restoration from a groin harm and can journey with the crew.

Keefe stated he believes Mrazek is on observe to return as soon as the unique prognosis of a 14-day absence is finished. Mrazek was damage final Thursday through the Leafs’ recreation in Ottawa towards the Senators.

Winger Ilya Mikheyev, who suffered a damaged thumb within the Leafs’ remaining pre-season recreation on Oct. 9, has not resumed skating.

How a lot has modified for the Leafs because the Sharks’ most up-to-date go to, not fairly two years in the past on Oct. 25, 2019?

Ten gamers who dressed for the Leafs in a 4-1 Toronto win that evening not are with the crew.

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The projected Leafs lineup tonight:

LW-C-RW

Nick Ritchie-Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner

Michael Bunting-John Tavares-William Nylander

Alex Kerfoot-David Kampf-Ondrej Kase

Pierre Engvall-Jason Spezza-Wayne Simmonds

Defence

Morgan Rielly-TJ Brodie

Jake Muzzin-Justin Holl

Rasmus Sandin-Travis Dermott

Goalies

Michael Hutchinson

Jack Campbell

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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