Matthews explains why Robertson is thriving

TORONTO — When Auston Matthews compares 18-year-old Nick Robertson, who scored a playoff goal in the 2020 bubble, to the 21-year-old with your best chance to make the post-camp listthink about the prospect’s bad luck (injuries) and bad timing (pandemic).

But Matthews also sees a confidence and ease that only comes with experience.

“The world changed when he entered the league. So it’s not easy, mentally, to go through that. Physically too. But he has come across as very confident so far,” says Matthews.

“I think the biggest thing for him is that sometimes you try too hard and it almost works against you. You’re trying and you’re kind of forcing and pushing and wanting so much that sometimes you just have to relax and play your game. Work hard and play smart and don’t try to force the issue too much.

“This camp has done a really good job of just finding their game. And obviously if you score a couple of goals, you get that confidence. And that’s what he loves to do.”

Robertson was a point-per-game with the Marlies last season, and his three preseason goals helped him win a second-string audition alongside William Nylander and Alexander Kerfoot in Montreal on Monday.

Robertson then came out, receiving a hooking penalty that led to the Leafs’ first power-play goal, generating a rough/quite primary assist on Nylander’s sure goal and helping set up two more in a 5-game preseason win. 1.

He now has as many as seven points, tied with Matt Duchene and Timo Meier for the top of the NHL preseason scoring race.

For Robertson to get the most out of his greatest weapon, he needs top-notch offensive minutes. However, a top-six role also requires the 5-foot-9 left winger to match the strength of the NHL’s top D-men and be reliable defensively.

“I’m not sure there’s a lot I can’t teach him about how to shoot because, honestly, I think he probably makes it stronger than anyone on the team,” says Matthews.

“It’s just little details of the game (that are) so important, especially with how fast guys are and how tight the game is, to be able to use that shot when there’s not a lot of room.”

Kerfoot doesn’t want the boy to be portrayed as a one-trick pony.

“He is much more than a shot, right? He is a good hockey player,” says Kerfoot. “He can make plays, he works really hard and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to be a good all-around player.”

Keefe praises that Robertson’s exhibition games “are the best I’ve seen Nick in a Leafs jersey,” particularly as he has adjusted his approach to conjure the offense (six points in three games) within the team’s structure and the fast pace of professionals.

As much as Robertson’s star camp has wowed fans and impressed his teammates, there’s still no guarantee he won’t start the 2022-23 season as Marlie.

“As much as these are NHL preseason games, this is not the NHL,” Keefe notes.

“But in Nick’s case, whatever has been in front of him, he just continues to get better.”

Sandin is stress free…finally

“Bang Bang Bang.”

Here’s how Muzzin describes practice partner Rasmus Sandin’s life since signing on your bridging contract In the past week.

The young defenseman is still adjusting to Toronto time after happily hopping on a transatlantic flight from Sweden, undergoing medical tests, catching up on missed meetings and slipping into practices.

He is busy but relaxed.

“I would say there is no point without stress this summer. It was definitely stressful. Since the beginning of the summer, I thought (my contract) would be fulfilled every day and every week,” Sandin said during his first meeting with Leafs reporters.

“I was watching the preseason games and I was looking forward to getting here and playing.”

Sandin says his reception has been warm and he has no problem patrolling the ice to the right of Muzzin, his unnatural side, in the absence of his friend Timothy Liljegren.

“I feel comfortable on the right,” says Sandin. “I need to prove myself. I need to show them that I had a good summer and be ready when the season starts.”

Keefe believes the 22-year-old has had enough time in the league to figure out his strengths and weaknesses and has reached “the right age to start blossoming”.

Sandin spent his summer training (and golfing) alongside William Nylander and grew from 178 to 194 pounds.

To ease his mind from the stress of stagnation, Sandin says he would leave his phone at home and go into the woods to find chanterelle mushrooms, which he would use for cooking.

“I’m really excited to be back,” he says. “The sun is shining right now, so I can’t complain.”

Muzzin’s back problems date back

Muzzin may have been slowed by injuries recently, but the 33-year-old wit is as quick as ever.

When asked how he went from saying he was physically fine on media day to sitting out the first week of camp with a sore back, Muzzin jokes, “I think he sat around talking to the media all day.”

On his return to practice shortly after seeing forwards Calle Järnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot play the bulk of a pre-season shutout victory as defenders:: “I had to go back so as not to lose my job”.

Humor is a wonderful tool for diversion.

But the risk of injury is serious business for Muzzin, a family man who suffered back-to-back concussions last winter and missed 43 percent of Toronto’s regular season recovering from multiple injuries.

“If you want to go deeper into it, yes, there is life after hockey. You want to be able to be normal. I have kids. I want to be able to play with them,” Muzzin said Monday.

“But I’m not worried about that. We are taking the right steps here and handling it, and we will continue to do so.”

Muzzin don’t want to use the word injury when talking about the discomfort and tension that appeared in his back.

It’s an area of ​​the defenseman’s body with bruises that he’s been handling since he was 15 and intervened in two herniated discs that robbed the player of his first season in the OHL with Sault Ste. Maria.

While Muzzin admits his false start to camp was frustrating, he is now cleared for contact, ramping up his conditioning and targeting this weekend to enter his first preseason game.

“You play a long time and a lot of games, and things build up and build up. It’s something that we’ve managed very well for a long time and we have to continue with that,” says Muzzin.

“Any time you have surgery at that age and in a crucial place where you’re playing a physical sport, it’s something you deal with every day. And I’ve been doing it for, what, 15 years. So it’s nothing new to me.”

Muzzin has the utmost faith and respect for the club’s medical staff to help him play as many games as possible.

“It’s unreal,” he says. “The boys over there will prolong your career.”

How Muzzin’s body will hold up to the rigors of another long season will be a question that will linger like a backache.

“I’m not worried about Jake,” says Keefe. “If anything, last year’s playoff experience showed us that he’s going to be ready to play as long as his body can get him in the lineup, which right now it seems to be. He will be ready.”

Unique Timers: Matt Murray played 100 minutes in a Leafs sweater and only allowed one goal, during a Habs power play. He’s 44 by 45 in opposing shots… John Tavares (oblique) and Timothy Liljegren (hernia) have skated again…. With Tavares out, Michael Bunting Is doing well on his promotion to the top power play unit… Järnkrok Street was not feeling well enough to practice on Sunday but was back in action on Monday…. Pierre Engvall is recovering nicely after twisting his foot during off-season training, but he needs another round of imaging before getting the green light for contact. He is practicing with the full group and is hoping to see preseason action this weekend against the Red Wings. “We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Keefe warns.

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