Leafs’ Matthews puts teeth into defense

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We don’t know what hurt Auston Matthews more, his head-to-head collision with the Leafs’ net Thursday night or the subsequent ribbing of his teammates when he returned to work Saturday with dental work.
“From what I saw, he was trying to stay on Sidney Crosby – and the post kind of got in his way,” defender Jake Muzzin said. “(His porridge) looks better. It happens. You break your teeth along the way. It’s part of the game. I have a few misses and a few halves. I’ll fix it when we’re done (playing).

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In a serious vein, Muzzin praised Matthews’ focus on defensive coverage this game and all season.

” You are connected. Your attention to detail, your intensity. you’re just trying to prevent a goal and stay hard on those top guys. Sometimes (injuries) happen.

Matthews missed a few shifts late in the 4-1 win, but was in practice Saturday morning before facing the St. Louis Blues.

“I saw it this morning, there were jokes about it,” center David Kampf said. “I hope he will be fine.”

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WELCOME BOZIE

Saturday could be the last time Tyler Bozak, 35, plays in Toronto and although he won a Cup with the Blues, that’s where the early years of his NHL career began, friendships and where he started a family. A healthy scratch lately, he’s been activated by coach Craig Berube for the occasion. Bozak was interacting with numerous SBA staffers on Saturday morning.

“It was a big time in my life where I kind of grew up,” Bozak said of more than 600 games as a Leaf. “This place definitely holds a special place in my heart.”

Bozak was downstairs when the Shanaplan started, mentoring a young Matthews and Mitch Marner.

“We all knew when they first arrived how good they were going to be and what potential they had,” Bozak said. “They were already elite players in their first years in the league. They are two wonderful children, I am still friends with them, I still talk to them from time to time. It’s exciting to see the path they take.

Bozak’s youngest child, son Kanon, was a familiar sight at home games five years ago, with the toddler clapping the Leafs in practice or hanging out with mascot Carlton the Bear on game night.

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“Oh yeah, he felt like that rink belonged to him,” laughed Bozak. “He was walking everywhere, watching warm-ups, going into the locker room. It was a blessing for him to have had this opportunity, especially in a market like this. He still knows he was born in Toronto and he’s proud of it.

Kanon did what no young Leaf of that era did, sit in the Cup bowl when St. Louis won in 2019.

DISCOVER THE CITY

It will be a few weeks before 19-year-old prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov arrives in Canada as he sorts through work permits.

Although there has been some debate as to why Ovchinnikov’s KHL contract with Sibir was terminated, resulting in the striker earning an entry-level contract with the Leafs, his agent, Shumi Babaev, said via text message Saturday that it was a mutual decision.

This allows the 2020 fifth-round draft pick to gain AHL experience over the next few months with the Marlies and get comfortable in an English-speaking environment, but he will be loaned to Sibir in 2022. -23 where he will get more playing time than this season.

LOOSE LEAF

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was hoping to get center Adam Brooks off waivers, but he was picked up by the Jets on Friday, the second time Toronto lost their former pick to the wire this season. “I trained him for a long time. I have tremendous respect for him and appreciation for what he did, winning a Calder Cup and his time with us last season,” Keefe said. “He wasn’t going to start with us (now), but if this decision keeps him in the NHL, there was no better place for him to go. He’s a proud Winnipegger and being with the Jets is good for him”… Vladimir Tarasenko wasn’t in the Blues roster on Saturday due to what coach Craig Berube called a daily injury to his leading scorer. That helped open the door for Bozak, while in another lineout move, the Blues called up former Leafs defenseman Calle Rosen.

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