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Nilander is still looking for answers

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Toronto TSN reporter Kristen Shilton is logged daily with news and notes on Maple Leaves. The team conducted the practice at 11:00 in the MasterCard Center

William Nilander is still looking for his first goal of the season, a marker that will undoubtedly lift a significant burden from his shoulders in the face of a recession that has reached 11 games. But before that happens, Nilander removed something else from his shoulder — a few inches of hair.

The 22-year-old boy returned to Toronto in early December with much longer locks than he left last spring, but one of his family members advised him to try a new look for the New Year.

“My aunt is in the city, and she cuts my hair, so I said,“ Yes, we have to do this, ”said Nilander after practicing Lifs on Monday.

Nilander joked that “I hope” that an aesthetic change in the end will have a positive impact on his game, which the winger freely admits is not where it should be.

Nilander managed to inflict only two gears, even on December 11, a month since he finished his contract with Leafs and returned to action.

Nilander plunged into an old bag with tricks during practice on Monday, using a weighted stick in some of the individual exercises to manipulate and shoot, so that compared to him his usual stick became easier and smoother.

“I want to get better. I don't think I'm pleased [my game] in general, ”he said. "I work to become better in every game, and I feel that I am going [along] OK. I feel [my conditioning is] to get there. Felt better in the last game. There are several games in which I breathe and all that stuff. ”

Head coach Mike Babcock avoided Nilander's warm-up by publicly stating that his adaptation period was fully expected. This does not mean that there is unlimited patience.

"I don't know about weakening [him] in, "said Babcock about how he treats a winger." But you guys [the media] talked to him today? What do you think makes a guy? What I think is that when you come back and you have an expectation for yourself, and then it’s not so good, it tends to put pressure on you. So how do you handle it? Do not bother yourself, just come, play hard and compete very hard. ”

Babcock reunited Nilander on the line with Oston Matthews in the second period of the loss to Toronto to the New Yorkers on Saturday, and the coach again brought together his young stars in training on Monday.

Babcock stressed that these agreements may change before the game on Thursday against the “Minnesota Wild”.

When it comes to the success of Nilander or his absence so far, Babcock repeated what he believed all the time – everything will change for the better, as soon as Nilander can again consider himself a scorer.

“You get one to get on the net – and this is probably going to get off his ass – but you get one to get in, and it's amazing how the weight of the world is coming off you, and you are coping with it,” said Babcock. "This is what we hope for."


Frederick Andersen is listed in the injury report as being daily with a groin injury, but on Monday he took part in a solo session with goalkeeping coach Steve Brier before training the team.

Andersen spent about 45 minutes with Brier, the first time he was on the ice after his morning skiing in Toronto in Columbus on December 23rd. They went through several workouts and a number of regular goalkeeper workouts.

Not having a game in the schedule until Thursday, Babcock remains cautious with regards to restoring Andersen.

“Freddie will train tomorrow with Stevie [on the team’s day off]and then we will see how this goes, ”he said. “I do not know whether he will be on the ice with us the next day or not on the ice, they will tell me. I do not ask about these things. They tell me when they are ready. We will go from there.

Returning Kasimir Kaskisuo to the Toronto Marlis after Saturday's game, Leafs greeted the goalkeeper of York University Alex Fotino man network for the morning. Fotino previously trained with Toronto on December 19th.

Answering the question whether Leaves would again remember Cascisso after the Marlies game on Monday afternoon, Babcock said that at the moment there is no such plan.

“Freddie is training tomorrow. I will see it the next day, ”he said. "Then, if I have any information, I am going to share it with you."

While Andersen struggled with his ailment, Garrett Sparks took on starting duties in the last three Leafs games. He has a 2-1-0 record in that interval and a 6-2-1 record in the season. Sparks enjoys the opportunity to get more ice time, but was equally pleased to see how Andersen is making progress.

“He is doing everything in his power to make him feel 100 percent in this race,” said Sparks. “He is a player. He will do his best to be ready to help this team. And I think he does an excellent job. ”


2018 was an extremely memorable year for Sparks.

The 25-year-old was named goalkeeper of the American Hockey League for the sensational season 31-9-1 with Marlies, and two months later led the team to the first Calder Cup championship in franchise history.

This helped Sparks to get Leafs spare goalkeeping work outside the training camp, which allowed him to participate in the first full-fledged campaign in his NHL career.

“A lot has happened in the last 365,” he admitted. “Yesterday I spent some time thinking about everything. If you could tell me that it was so [would go] On January 1, 2018, I would take it 100 percent. ”

Babcock said that he didn’t really like personal New Year's decisions, but he took care to tell his team how much progress they had made by 2018 and how they could become stronger in 2019.

“Today I tried to impress the players that we had a pretty good year 2018, we won a lot of games,” he said of the Leafs record 26-11-2. “By saying all this, we are in a situation where we expect more and would like to get more, so we need to improve the way we play if we are going to get more.”


Almost two weeks have passed since December 18, when Zach Hyman injured his ankle against the devils from New Jersey. On Monday, he showed signs of a movement to return, rolling on his own with sports assistant therapist John Geller before Leafs training.

Toronto initially said Hyman would be out for at least three weeks, and Babcock didn’t have any updates on this schedule. He noted, however, that Tyler Ennis, who broke his ankle on December 20, is “farther back” than Hyman regarding the return.


Line maple leaf in practice:




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