Leafs notebook: The ice gets bigger when Marner has puck
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