Home / Sports / Babcock tinkers with lines as Leafs get 1st look at Tavares-Matthews duo

Babcock tinkers with lines as Leafs get 1st look at Tavares-Matthews duo

John Tavares had his shot thwarted in shut sooner than a fast solo effort at the opposite finish of the rink seconds later from Auston Matthews was once additionally grew to become apart.

While neither of Toronto’s megastar centres hooked up all the way through the series, it was once a temporary glimpse of the firepower down the center the Maple Leafs intend to unharness on the remainder of the NHL this season, and for plenty of extra to come back.

Toronto held its first on-ice periods at coaching camp in Niagara Falls Friday, together with a scrimmage that started with Tavares, who left the New York Islanders to signal a seven-year, $77-million US contract with the franchise he cheered for as a child, and Matthews, Toronto’s younger phenom, dealing with off to get issues began.

“It was great to just get out there and get into it again,” Tavares stated. “(The) start of building towards where we want to get to.”

Leafs head trainer Mike Babcock was once true to his line-combination phrase with Tavares flanked via Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman, whilst Matthews skated with Patrick Marleau and Tyler Ennis, who’s occupying the spot of William Nylander as the winger’s representatives and control proceed to barter a brand new contract.

“It went pretty well,” stated Matthews, who had 63 issues (34 targets, 29 assists) ultimate season in spite of lacking 20 video games with more than a few accidents. “Everybody’s trying to get back into game shape and get the pace.”

Matthews, Hyman cut up up

Babcock mused about his ahead setup proper after the Leafs signed Tavares, deciding to separate up Matthews and the loyal Hyman in spite of the pair enjoying lots of the ultimate two seasons in combination.

“Sometimes things get old,” stated the trainer. “It will be interesting to see how all that goes. Right now if you’re John Tavares and you’ve got Hyman and you’ve got Marner and they’re both flying about 900 miles an hour, it’s got to be a pretty good feeling.”

Matthews was once just a little stunned at the transfer, however stated the stream is most commonly about Hyman’s versatility.

“He fits in anywhere,” stated Matthews, who turns 21 on Monday. “He creates area for guys. He wins battles. He’s difficult to play in opposition to.

“Anywhere you place him, he is going to achieve success.”

Babcock tinkers with lines as Leafs get 1st look at Tavares-Matthews duo

Coach Mike Babcock displays his group as, from left, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman and John Tavares look on. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

Babcock added that a part of the method of wooing Tavares, who grew up west of Toronto and scored 37 targets to move alongside with 47 assists for 84 issues ultimate season, was once promising a lineup of Stanley Cup-favourite ability like the only on show Friday.

“One of the tactics we have been ready to recruit John is via telling him he would get to play with actual excellent gamers,” Babcock said. “That’s simply the info.”

Another reality was once that Matthews’ palms appeared to be in mid-season shape on a slick shootout deke — the so-called “no-move” perfected via Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov the place a participant tries to misinform the goalie with his a sequence of manoeuvres sooner than permitting the puck to slip harmlessly into the web.

“Been messing round with that for a little bit so I believed I might carry it out,” Matthews said. “I were given fortunate there in fact. I believed he had it.”

“It was once great,” Tavares added with a smile. “Like to look him proceed the ones all over the yr. It was once sneaky.”

Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey gained the Cup in Pittsburgh with Penguins megastar centres Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in 2016. He stated the Tavares-Matthews 1-2 punch, which is complemented via Nazem Kadri and his back-to-back 32-goal seasons as a 3rd choice, reminds him a little bit of that dynamic duo.

“It’s in that ballpark,” Hainsey said. “You had (Crosby and Malkin) then you definitely had (Nick) Bonino, who have compatibility the function completely after that, then (Matt) Cullen.

‘Trending in that route’

“We’re kind of trending in that direction here. If Naz is scoring 30 goals as a third-line centre, you’re probably in pretty good shape at that position. It’s exciting to be part of a team like this where all the weapons are certainly there.”

The Leafs hit the ice at the Gale Centre Arena in Niagara Falls to a cacophony of noise supplied most commonly via the masses of blue-clad college kids within the stands, with Leafs jerseys new and outdated dotting the gang.

While he was once a part of some casual skates over the summer time, Friday was once the primary actual style of Leaf Nation for Tavares.

“The attention around the team is unbelievable,” he stated. “A large number of amusing being round that setting and that form of power … it is great that it is in spite of everything actual.

“I will for sure revel in on a daily basis, each 2nd of it. But at the similar time I understand how vital the point of interest needs to be on what you need to do to be in a position to play.”

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