Leafs note­book: The ice gets big­ger when Marner has puck

Toronto Star - - SPORTS -

Maple Leafs coach Mike Bab­cock says it’s not a mat­ter of size with Mitch Marner, it’s his skill.

“Why has it not been a prob­lem for (Patrick) Kane or (Artemi) Panerin, or all these guys with elite skill?” Bab­cock said. “When they get the puck the rink gets big­ger. When the rest of us get the puck, the rink gets smaller.

“They must have some­thing, whether it be their vi­sion, their hockey sense, their speed, their edges. (Marner) has room ev­ery time he has the puck.”

The slight Marner, gen­er­ously listed at six feet and 170 pounds, had 10 points — four goals, six as­sists — in 12 games prior to Tues­day night’s game against Los An­ge­les.

“Once he fo­cuses on work­ing hard and doesn’t get com­fort­able, he’s pretty good,” Bab­cock said.

Mitch or Mitchell? Marner gets asked that a lot be­cause ev­ery­one calls him Mitch, even though his full name is Mitchell. It makes a dif­fer­ence in to­day’s data-scrap­ing dig­i­tal me­dia, but it makes Marner laugh. “What­ever’s eas­ier,” he said. His mom calls him Mitch. Un­less he’s in trou­ble. “Then it’s Mitchell,” he said.

De­fence first: Af­ter light­ing things up in train­ing camp, Maple Leafs de­fence­man had com­bined for only four goals head­ing into Mon­day night’s game. Jake Gar­diner led the blue­lin­ers with two. “It’s one of those things where they’ll go in in bunches,” said Gar­diner. “We’re not the guys who are sup­posed to score goals. We have a lot of of­fen­sive weapons this year.”

Tough time zzzzone: If some­one is dis­ap­pointed Fred­erik Andersen has left the West Coast for the East­ern time zone, it’s his father, Ernst. As a car­pen­ter in Calais, France, Ernst Andersen would wake up around 5 a.m., and watch the end of Ducks games fea­tur­ing his son. A West Coast game would start around 4 a.m. in Calais’ time zone. But Leaf home games start at 1 a.m. “It’s harder for him to watch,” said the Dan­ish goalie.

One by one: Kings coach Dar­ryl Sut­ter is im­pressed with the long list of first-round picks the Maple Leafs have in their lineup. “Look at Nazem Kadri, and Jake Gar­diner. James van Riems­dyk. Guys are picked in the top (of the draft). Those guys are all in their lineup. Gar­diner is an Ana­heim pick, van Riems­dyk is Philly’s. Other than that, they’re all high first-rounders of the Leafs and they’re all mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the club and that’s why they’re a bet­ter club.” The Leafs have seven play­ers who were cho­sen eighth or higher in the draft. Gar­diner was se­lected 17th. Kevin McGran

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