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28.01.2019 04:44
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MANHATTAN – Phil Kessel called it unacceptable. He even sprinkled in a rare swear word to describe what hadn’t been near good enough and vowed to improve. Cue the first signs of life from Kessel and Toronto’s top line at the Garden on Sunday night. The trio – which also includes James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak – combined for seven points Sunday as the Maple Leafs chased Henrik Lundqvist from the net, spoiled the Rangers home opener and won for the first time in three tries this season. “It’s a funny game,” van Riemsdyk said after a two-point performance. “Sometimes the puck bounces a little differently – especially on the power-play – you capitalize on your chances and it looks like you had a really good night. Sometimes you feel like you have a ton of chances and you can’t bury it, so it’s a funny game sometimes.” The team’s two leading scorers a year ago, Kessel and van Riemsdyk had been held off the scoresheet entirely in the opening two games. They were unusually without the puck, doing little to create offensively and spending whole lot of time defending – usually to mediocre effect. And while their performance at even-strength Sunday still left something to be desired, they hit the target on a power play that head coach, Randy Carlyle, labeled “disturbing” prior to the game. “We weren’t too frustrated,” said Bozak, who marked his third goal of the year, also winning 14 of 21 draws. “It’s so early in the season; you’ve got to stay positive at this part in the year.” “I don’t think that we expect that line to not deliver,” said Carlyle, less than two hours before game-time. “They will find a way to score. They’ve provided offence in this league for a number of years. And right now, the chances are one-and-out for them.” After that 5-2 loss to the Penguins, one in which he had a single shot attempt, Kessel said that his line “didn’t get [expletive] done, vowing to show something more against the Rangers. He finished with his first goal of the season – one fired post and in past Lundqvist on the power play – sprinkling in two assists and eight shot attempts along the way. And while they still saw a good chunk of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, Carlyle kept Kessel and his linemates away from the Rangers top trio – which features Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash – a shift in the way he typically employs them. “I thought they had more opportunities with the puck,” said Carlyle, noting a reduction in turnovers that had plagued the group in the first two games, both losses. Because of injury and early experimenting, the trio didn’t actually spend much time on the ice together during training camp and as a result their “timing and cohesion” was just off from the typical standard of the past two seasons. For all depth they added in the offseason the Leafs simply can’t compete if that trio or something like it isn’t producing on a regular basis. “I definitely think it was a step in the right direction,” van Riemsdyk said. In victory, the Leafs avoided opening the season with three straight losses, a low-point they hadn’t crossed since the 2009-10 season. Five Points 1. Up and Down Debut James Reimer won a game he started for the first time since January 21, but ultimately he couldn’t finish the evening against New York. Reimer was clipped by Dominic Moore’s rear end in the early stages of the third period, falling to the ice immediately in discomfort. During the impending commercial break, he engaged in a lengthy dialogue with the team’s head athletic therapist, Paul Ayotte, and was forced to come out of the game. Though he said he felt fine afterward, Reimer was clearly not thrilled with the decision, unusually solemn and serious. “Obviously, you don’t want to come out of the game,” Reimer said. “I was feeling good, felt like I was stopping pucks, but our trainer’s job is to ensure the safety of the players and enforce the protocol that’s in place. I’m sure it’s not a fun job on his part.” The 26-year-old has a history with injuries of this kind. He missed 18 games with what was initially dubbed “concussion-like symptoms” in his second season with the Leafs, troubled by the after effects of the injury all year long. Then, early last season, he was clipped by teammate, Josh Leivo, and lifted from the remainder of an affair against Carolina. Reimer, who made 24 saves and was especially impressive just before the collision, said he expected to practice with the team on Monday. 2. Top Line Man Advantage Carlyle said the top line’s power-play performance had been the most “disturbing” aspect of an off-kilter early performance – one that came alive against the Rangers – but that issue really dates back to the end of last season. Kessel, who led the team with 20 power-play points, had only two in February, March and April combined. And van Riemsdyk, who led the team with nine power-play goals, went those same final three months without a goal or even a point on the man advantage. Their unit scored a pair against New York, however, coming up with the first of the year for both Kessel and Cody Franson. One subtle adjustment, Carlyle said, was getting the puck moving more often to the weak side – Kessel typically controlling things at the left half-wall. The result was Bozak finding Franson creeping in from the right point and depositing the game’s first goal. 3. Gardiner/Percy Franson’s season debut forced a line-up decision for the coaching staff and, to some surprise, it was Jake Gardiner who was lifted from the line-up. Gardiner actually led the team in ice-time one night earlier, but with Stuart Percy performing above expectation, he was deemed the choice to come out. “Jake drew the short straw tonight,” Carlyle said. As for Percy, who played 20 minutes and picked up a point for the third-straight game, Carlyle remained impressed while injecting some caution. “Even though he does make the odd mistake out there he’s trying to do the right thing and that’s a tribute to a young man that’s prepared himself over the course of the summer,” said Carlyle. But it was only three games, he continued, and the “NHL has a way of finding its level”. 4. New Coaches Early reviews on the new additions to the Leafs coaching staff have been positive. Peter Horachek and Steve Spott, both strong communicators, have shown to be easily approachable for players with questions or concerns and a pleasantly surprising fit for players in the room. Fired in the offseason – along with Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon – Dave Farrish was seen to be such a presence on the coaching staff previously and there was concern that a voice wouldn’t exist amid the changes. Chris Dennis was the lone holdover to Carlyle’s staff; he rose to the assistant ranks last season from prior duties as the team’s video coach. 5. Life in T.O. Roman Polak made the move to St. Louis from the Czech Republic in the fall of 2006 and he lived there until the middle of last summer when he was dealt to the Leafs. He expanded on the transition from the sleepy Midwest city of about 300,000 people to the hurried pace of Toronto. SIEGEL: You played in St. Louis for a long time, what’s the weirdest thing about not being in St. Louis right now? POLAK: I don’t know; it’s a tough question. I feel pretty good actually here. I was looking forward to the trade. It was pretty good. It was a challenge; just like you maybe changing jobs [or] you have a new job, it’s the same thing; you kind of have to prove yourself, that you can still do it, that you’re a good hockey player, and you’re a good fit for the team. I just want to prove it here so I think it was just a good push in my hockey career to do something else. SIEGEL: But like you say, in any career, if you move jobs you have to adjust to living in a new place. What’s the biggest difference between St. Louis and Toronto? POLAK: The biggest difference is just the city. The city is different – it’s Canada obviously. But it’s much bigger. The downtown is kind of different. It’s more European-style; you can walk everywhere. But I like it. I’m not saying I have to adjust because it’s something bad or something, I love it. I love the city. I love that you can walk everywhere. It’s pretty good for me so far. SIEGEL: Were you a big St. Louis Cardinals fan while you lived there? POLAK: Not really. I could tell it was a big thing in St. Louis. The baseball, obviously, is the number-one sport there. But I’m not really a baseball fan. I actually saw one game here [in Toronto] when I got here. I took my little daughter to the baseball game so it was pretty interesting, it was pretty nice. Polak spoke to fellow Czech native and former Leaf, Pavel Kubina, about what to expect in Toronto. The best advice, ignore the ranting of media at all times, good or bad. Stats-Pack 7 – Combined points for Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak against the Rangers. 100% – Leafs faceoff percentage on the power-play against the Rangers, winning all five draws. 17:07 – Ice-time for Cody Franson in his season debut. 1st – Career multi-point game in the NHL for Leo Komarov, who had two assists against New York. 11 – Number of games it took David Clarkson to score his first goal last season. Clarkson tallied the Leafs sixth goal and his first this year on Sunday in Game 3. Special Teams Capsule PP: 2-4 Season: 41.7% PK: 2-2 Season: 66.7% Quote of the Night “It’s very disrespectful. The guy’s going up the stands giving out high-fives like he won an Oscar or something. I don’t know what his deal was. Im sure once we string together a few wins in a row hell be right back in the front of the line trying to purchase another jersey. We dont need fans like that.” -Nazem Kadri, on the fan who tossed his jersey Saturday at the ACC. Womens Nike Air Max 1 . Louis Cardinals for the National League Wild Card, are in the drivers seat as they open the final series of the regular season, but they face a large task in the form of the Philadelphia Phillies. Mens Nike Air Max Store . -- EJ Manuel followed the worst game of his career with the best. The weekend at Oriole Park has been less kind, with three players suffering varying degrees of injury. The worst ailment of the three, at least optically, is the deep bone bruise suffered by Adam Lind when he fouled a pitch off the top of his right foot in the sixth inning of Saturdays game. Nike Air Max Online . The Asheville, N.C. native, who signed as a free agent with the CFL club last May, didnt see any action with Edmonton this season after opening the year on the injured list. White Nike Air Max 1 . Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead when he got in front of his marker to neatly flick in Lucass cross in the 59th minute. New signing Yohan Cabaye came on as a second-half substitute and headed Ezequiel Lavezzis cross against the post in the 87th. Moments later, Lucas set up another goal from the right when fellow countryman Alex turned in his corner with a strikers finish.SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chilean midfielder Matias Fernandez needs surgery on his right ankle and will miss the World Cup, another injury blow for the talented South Americans. Fernandez told reporters on Tuesday he would be unable to play in Brazil in three weeks. He said the ankle pain had been there for a long time, and only immediate surgery would fix the problem. Another key midfieelder, Arturo Vidal of Italian club Juventus, recently underwent right-knee surgery and is uncertain to make the World Cup.dddddddddddd However, team doctors at Juventus have said they are confident he will play. Chile plays its first match on June 13 against Australia. 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