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None Matthews: Teams will be prepared for Leafs' 'firepower'

on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:36 pm
The pained, eyes-to-the-sky glances of Maple Leafs defencemen said it all.

Auston Matthews is back in town, displaying zero rust during his first summer scrimmage with the boys. He showed Friday he can stickhandle in a phone booth — if they were still around — and then come off the boards to make multiple dekes around defenders and tuck the puck past the goal line.

Of course, it’s about to get much harder for Matthews to maneuver, now that the NHL has seen how he dazzles. But, there’s lots of time and room for Matthews to grow into a premier centre. He’s still a teenager, at least for a couple of weeks.

If there’s a sophomore jinx perched like a buzzard outside the Air Canada Centre, it must first overcome a rested, robust Matthews, who has had none of last summer’s distractions these past few months.

No world championships, draft hype or busy appearance schedule that had him crisscrossing two continents from March until late June. No NHL scouting combine or a World Cup in September, filming TV bits or time needed to get settled in Toronto.

After coming off the ice Friday with Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Nikita Zaitsev and the rest of the young Leafs, Matthews underlined how a quiet summer could help, approaching main Leaf camp in less than two weeks.

“For sure,” he said. “It was nice not having so much stuff going on around you, being so hectic with the combine, the draft and everything. It was more relaxing. It was nice to spend a little more time training.”

Matthews is singing the praises of Pilates, a fitness system designed to alleviate back pain and improve balance. It's an ideal workout for a 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounder who feels the slings and arrows for 82 regular season games.

“I focused a lot on body posture this summer,” Matthews said. “I started doing Pilates, just kind of opening myself up more a bit, being more upright and (with the goal of) avoiding other injuries.

“I think I’m more flexible (remember that dandy deke goal against Carolina with his legs split open by a trip?) and I feel more flexible. As far as training goes, it was the same as the last four years, the same person and it seems to work. I feel good and I’m pretty excited to get going.”

Matthews, who scored 40 goals as a rookie to set a Leaf record, has been almost off the radar in Arizona after the NHL awards, in which his first-place vote totals among writers ran 164-3, ahead of Winnipeg Jet Patrick Laine. He traveled a bit, mostly next door to his birth state in California.

Matthews: Teams will be prepared for Leafs' 'firepower' MNIZu-1
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None Re: Matthews: Teams will be prepared for Leafs' 'firepower'

on Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:21 pm
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