March 28, 2023
Matthews and Marner reunite on topline as Bunting 'resets' -

Matthews and Marner reunite on topline as Bunting ‘resets’ –

The Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights competed Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena.

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner both failed to register a shot on Sunday. It’s the first time this has ever happened in the same game.

“We can’t worry about that,” Marner said of the chemistry in Toronto’s top line. “You just have to realize that you are doing the right things; you get the chances and they just don’t happen. You just be patient with it.”

Patience ran out for Sheldon Keefe in Raleigh. With the Leafs struggling to generate offense against the Carolina Hurricanes, the coach moved Marner to the second line with John Tavares and Nick Robertson.

These three players eventually combined to create the game-winning goal. Meanwhile, William Nylander and Alex Kerfoot advanced to play with Matthews, who was assisting on Nylander’s insurance marker.

Michael Bunting was demoted from the top line to the bottom six, where he will continue to play on Tuesday. Why didn’t the chemistry between Bunting, Matthews and Marner click again earlier this season?

“I’m not sure,” Matthews said. “I mean, honestly, sometimes these things take time and maybe you just get away from things that made you successful. But I think we had some really good chances, some really quality opportunities.”

Marner is yet to receive a primary assist for a goal from Matthews this season. Bunting helped Matthews’ even goal on Saturday, but that’s his only point in the last seven games.

“It didn’t work [same as] last year, but it is what it is,” Bunting said. “It’s only the beginning of the year, so I’m not worried about that.”

“We were satisfied with our game,” emphasized Marner. “We got the opportunities, they just haven’t come yet.”

While Keefe keeps coming back to the Matthews-Marner pair, he’s knocked Bunting down to play with Pierre Engvall and Calle Jarnkrok.

“I don’t think anything will change,” Bunting said. “Both are experienced players and they play very fast so I think I can get that on the line too. I can get my speed, the precheck, and then a little bit of my skill and start making games. ”

Bunting was pulled off the topline for two games during last month’s California swing.

“Bunts is still vying for his ass,” Keefe noted. “He’s involved in everything. It’s not that part of it. It just didn’t add up, both for him and his linemates, you know, so a little change in chemistry here today.”

Bunting had 58 points in 5-on-5 last season, which tied with Connor McDavid for sixth overall.

“To be honest, it’s no different than last year,” Keefe pointed out. “He didn’t start on that line. He has earned his way on this line. He played further down the lineup, kind of found his own game. So, take a small step back here and try to give him that opportunity to just focus on himself. Maybe a little lighter in terms of matchups and responsibility. We’ve already done that this season and it wasn’t long before we recalled him and I suspect it will be similar, but I think it’s important that he reconciles in terms of his process and what he’s thinking about or has to worry if he plays backs up a bit.

Matthews, Marner back together but Bunting demoted at Leafs skate

After Sheldon Keefe made an in-game adjustment by separating Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in their win over the Hurricanes. The two were back on the same line in this morning’s run, however Alex Kerfoot was their other winger while Michael Bunting ran with the fourth line. Mark Masters has more.

After a tough road trip across the west, the Leafs won three games last week.

“It gives everyone confidence, which is good,” Matthews said. “But it’s also just a reminder of how good we have to be.”

The Leafs defeated a pair of hot teams in Boston and Carolina on back-to-back days over the weekend.

“It’s obviously not an easy league,” Matthews said. “Sometimes you have to go through adversity and sometimes it hits you sooner or harder than expected and that’s all fine. You have to roll with the punches and go with the flow and figure it out along the way and put in the work and try to crawl out of it. Last week our game took a big step and made some big wins and we want to continue that momentum.

Matthews on Leafs builds momentum: ‘A reminder of how good we must be’

The last time the Maple Leafs faced the Golden Knights, it was the first of four straight losses on a tough road trip across the west. But Toronto has found a certain rhythm lately and knows they’re going to need their best again with Vegas in town.

Ilya Samsonov, who sustained a knee injury on Saturday, is back on the ice.

“Overall he’s feeling pretty good,” Keefe said. “He went out on the ice today to try it and see how he’s doing. It’s not in full swing or anything, but it felt good. He will not be available to us this week. The schedule is uncertain, but call it week-by-week at this point. The fact that he’s on the ice today and feeling good enough for it is an encouraging sign.”

Matt Murray participated in the morning skate. It was his first team session since suffering an adductor injury on October 15. He is expected to take part in Wednesday training.

“This is a huge milestone for him to overcome in his recovery,” Keefe said. “Physically he feels good and strong and it’s just a matter of getting him back up to seeing pucks and shots from guys in practice.”

The Leafs also have practice scheduled for Thursday before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. The Vancouver Canucks will be in town for a game on Saturday.

Logan Thompson gets the starting point for the Knights. He stopped 22 of 23 shots in a win against the Leafs earlier this season.

Leaf Ice Chips: Samsonov Ice Skates; Murray returns to training on Wednesday

Ilya Samsonov went ice skating briefly this morning but Sheldon Keefe says there is no timetable for a return and they are taking things week by week. While Matt Murray snapped some footage and is expected to return to training on Wednesday. Mark Masters has more on the Toronto goalkeeping front.

The Leafs have begun passing a championship belt to a player of the game after wins.

Morgan Rielly originally received the belt from Edge (aka Adam Copeland) when the wrestler was in town for an episode of WWE Raw at Scotiabank Arena in August.

“This is a cool gift for us,” said Marner. “A cool way to recognize someone for their efforts.”

Tavares received the belt after scoring a hat trick against the Philadelphia Flyers last Tuesday. The captain passed it on to Justin Holl, who scored four blocks in Saturday’s win over the Boston Bruins. On Sunday, Holl handed over to Erik Kallgren, who celebrated his first win of the season with 29 saves.

“We’ve been doing this a few games now,” Matthews said. “It’s always fun to do something at the end of the game to recognize someone. I like UFC so I think the belt aspect is pretty cool.”

how hard is it

“I haven’t touched it yet,” Matthews said with a smile. “But yeah, it looks like a pretty real belt.”

Marner reveals the WWE origins of the Leafs’ player-of-the-game belt

The Leafs are passing a WWE belt around the locker room after wins this season. Erik Kallgren received it Sunday night after a performance of 29 saves in Raleigh. Assistant Captain Mitch Marner was asked about the origins of the Player of the Game award after defeating the Hurricanes.

Denis Malgin could easily have gotten the belt considering how he played on Sunday.

“I thought Malgin was our best player for a lot of the hockey game,” Keefe gushed. “One of the few guys that really sticks with the puck and really challenges the inside and gets things going.”

The 5ft 9 winger started the season on the second row with Tavares and Nylander. Now he’s gaining traction as he lines up alongside shutdown center David Kampf and hitter-loving Zach Aston-Reese.

“I look at it as a guy who took a line offensively. He took matters into his own hands,” Keefe said. “I was just talking to Denis about it: ‘Hey, this is the opportunity. That’s what’s there and use it. You don’t necessarily have to change your game or anything, but you have to find a role on this team. ‘ He was totally into it. Really, he just wanted to be on our team and get a chance to be in the line-up.”

Malgin was thrashed in Saturday’s win and it wasn’t certain he would play against Carolina until after warm-up.

“This is as tough a game as you’re going to find on the schedule in the regular season and when he puts in that kind of performance you’ll certainly notice it,” Keefe said. “Whatever line he plays, he will succeed if he plays like that.”

Malgin led the Leafs with five shots at the net on Sunday.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for how competitive he is on the puck,” Keefe said. “He’s a strong guy for his size.”

Former Buffalo Saber Jack Eichel will play his first game in Toronto since December 17, 2019. He leads the Knights in scoring with 14 points.

“He fits right into the pace and transition speed that this team has had and is known for,” Keefe noted. “They didn’t have this No. 1 center and that changes a lot of things. It’s a very important thing, it brings everything together for them and rounds out their lineup.”

Lines at Leafs Skate:

Aston Reese – Fight – Malgin
Ammer – Engvall – iron hook
Holmberg, Simmonds

Brodie Holl
Giordano Sandin

Kalgren begins

#Matthews #Marner #reunite #topline #Bunting #resets #TSNca

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