TORONTO – Immediately after saying how flattered he was to be elected captain of the Atlantic Division for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, Auston Matthews hit his head with the next comment.
"In that way, it is clear that many very decent people will not be able to leave," Matthews said Thursday, taking his first practice since Christmas with Marleaus.
"We have four or five people who have made a big impact night after night on this team: Mitch [Marner], John [Tavares], Morgan [Rielly], Freddy [Andersen] all really worth to go and compete in this game. "
As dominant as their individual campaigns, except for a series of unexpected injuries or dropouts, we will not see the Maple Leafs rolled in five as deep as San Jose on January 25-26.
The NHL hopes that all 31 clubs send at least one representative, and the Leafs are far from the only team that should expect high profile insults as a result.
Joining Matthews was Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Ovechkin as division superstars who were nominated by fans via online ballots (the vote count was not disclosed by the league). With the exception of Ovechkin, who called himself the "old horse" of the group, all the other captains were dressed as North American teammates at the 2016 World Cup.
"It's just a trendy game – young people who come can make an impact early in their careers and continue to get better," Matthews reasoned.
"It's fun to watch. It's fun to be a part of and play in this type of game now, where he is fast and skilled. It's still physical – people are still competing out there – but it's definitely not like it used to be.
"I am truly grateful to be able to play in a market like Toronto and have passionate fans who try hard to choose you and do things like that. That means a lot to me as a player and as a person and part of Toronto."
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Matthews can put a letter on his sweater (hey!) Despite losing 38 percent of the Toronto game due to a shoulder injury.
"Worth it," Rielly said. "One of the best players in the world, so … surprising."
Matthews's 21-year-old 19 goals and 34 points over 23 matches speak for themselves. Although Matthews is ranked fourth on his own team in scoring goals, 1.48 points per game places him in fifth overall in that category.
"He was at that point in his career – a lot of fame at the moment. He was fun. It's interesting for our franchise," said coach Mike Babcock. "This is really praise for him from the fans. You always want to be good to fans, and they will be good for you. With the expertise they have and the attitude they have, there are many things that are liked."
And there are many questions about the NHL selection process, which prioritizes equality over achievement. Quota players are satisfying for each team, every division, and each position can leave several tents, which are worthy of many years of careers in Colorado, Calgary, Winnipeg, Tampa and Toronto.
Frederik Andersen's 20th victory unites him with Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas for the most league and five times more than in the other goal divisions (Montreal Cares Price and Tampa Domingue's reserve each has 15 wins) because Montreal (Price) and Detroit (Jimmy Howard) best combine star power and the feasibility of an All-Star Game in the net, there is a possibility that Andersen will miss. (Although I will give up the ice cream box sandwich for a month to see Connor McDavid and Dylan Larkin head-to-head in the Fastest Skater heat.)
Rielly is arguably the pioneer of the Norris Trophy. He leads the NHL in plus / minus (+26) and tops all defensemen in goals (13) and points (44). Not pointing Rielly to the blue line of the Atlantic would be a crime, although the defender said he "didn't really think about it." He just wants to help the Leafs win the match.
If Rielly has one vote? "Our goalkeeper. Freddy, for sure. There are no questions. "
Thomas Chabot from Ottawa and Keith Yandle in Florida will be our hunch for the other two D venues, although that could be detrimental to team mate Mark Stone and Aleksander Barkov.
These are ugly and complicated puzzles to be solved by the league head office and hockey operations department, and some colorful parts will be left in the box.
Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh of Lightning each have a cashing, for example, but how might the NHL ignore Nikita Kucherov (overall No. 2 in a rating of 57 points) and Brayden Point (47 points, overall 11th)? Steven Stamkos, with 20 cool goals before Christmas Eve, maybe losing because he is a great player on a load-laden team.
Buffalo Jeff Skinner, Gabriel Landeskog in Colorado, Patrik Laine in Winnipeg, and Elias Lindholm in Calgary were all involved.
Here in Toronto, Tavares (overall third in goals with 24) and / or Electric Marner (fifth overall in scoring with 50 points) are in serious danger of their invitation to get lost in the post despite their career years. Crazy thought that Tavares's four straight star streak was a doubt in his first year of tracking 50 goals.
Matthews had four decent teammates, so we asked, who would he bring if he could choose one of them?
"This is difficult," Matthews smiled. "I think if I could get one person, that might be Patty Marleau. Take her back to San Jose. Maybe stay at her house there, nine yards long."
The Maple Leafs (back) recalled Trevor Moore on Thursday, and it seems he will see the second power-play unit. The contents of the injury have been officially returned to Marlies during the Christmas holidays only as a saving measure for the hat … Babcock still separates Matthews and William Nylander. Despite starting Sunday's match together, the duo split after one period against Detroit on Sunday and remained like that on Thursday's training. Patrick Marleau played skating on the left side of Matthews, with Cassia Kapanen on their right, and Nylander – mired in the worst drought in the six worst matches of his career – rejoined Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown in the third row … Toronto returned to action Friday in Columbus for a battle between the two hottest NHL clubs at rest. Both the Maple Leafs and the Blue Jackets grilled four straight wins on Christmas Eve, and the Leafs had the advantage of watching Columbus play Rangers Thursday in New York and would catch them facing each other. "It's beneficial for us to practice today and play tomorrow," Rielly said.