Leafs Locker: Working for tips, Freddie is fit

On the weekend, the Leafs were trumpeting a stat that ranked them second in shots closest to the net, an average distance of 34 feet. That presumably includes all those deflections the Leafs have been getting, including John Tavares’s goal in Pittsburgh.

Connor Brown was busy trying to work on tips after Monday’s practice, standing in front of an empty net despite the danger of high velocity pucks coming hard from the blueline.

“The way we want to play is below the other team’s dots,” reasoned Brown. “Not only does that give us a good chance to score, but it limits their chances if they’re standing still in their own end. We’d rather be getting it deep and playing heavy than exchanging chances off the rush.

“For screen purposes you want to be an obstacle, be in the way. But the way (departed Leaf) James van Riemsdyk  did it, he was maybe the best guy in the league at deflections in the crease area. You pick up on those things. There are a lot of goals to be scored in tight and the more you can get at them, the more goals there are to be had.”

NOT CAUGHT SHORT

The Leafs would probably like a few more power plays to boost offence, but the flip side of that is they’re in the bottom 10 teams of being short-handed so far.

“The style of players that management ends up gathering for you is a big part of it,” began coach Mike Babcock. “And then you don’t want to take dumb penalties. Sometimes you’re in that spot because there is no one on the team that does any fighting. But last game we took needless stick penalties (Patrick Marleau for hooking, Igor Ozhiganov for tripping, one of his two minors, and Nazem Kadri for high sticking). You can’t take them against good power plays.”

FREDDY FITS RIGHT IN

Fredrik Andersen credits his improved start to a change in summer fitness with trainer Scott Prohaska, who works wth him in Newport Beach, Ca.   

“He helped me identify some things to make sure I feel good and athletic, right away, move well in the crease right away. Maybe the last few (summers), I’ve been trying to lose weight or get really strong, instead of coming in, feeling athletic and moving well.

“I’m at a point where it doesn’t benefit me to be adding weight to my maximum bench press. It’s more important to keep the agility. At a certain level, you’re not going to stop any more pucks just because you can lift 500 pounds compared to 450. It’s more important to have a strong core and move well.”

LOOSE LEAFS

No lineup changes appear imminent after the strong outing in Pittsburgh. Trevor Moore remains in reserve after a weekend call-up for leading scorer Auston Matthews, who has resumed light skating and shooting after a shoulder injury almost two weeks ago. Matthews won’t be back until at least later this month …

Update on the Leafs’ version of Animal Farm, young Mitch Marner calls the 39-year-old Marleau GOAT, a spin on football’s Tom Brady being hailed as Greatest Of All Time. Not to be confused with Freddy ‘The Goat’ Gauthier, who had that monicker first. Jake Gardiner says among Morgan Rielly’s new nicknames as he takes a larger role within the leadership group is ‘Big Dog’.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies