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Communication key as Matthews seeks to be ‘more dominant’

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17.04.2019

SPORTSCENTRE Reporter

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TSN Toronto reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on the Maple Leafs. The Leafs and Bruins held optional skates at Scotiabank Arena Wednesday morning ahead of Game 4.

Auston Matthews broke through with a goal and an assist in Game 3, but both came on the power play. At even strength, his line was actually outscored by the David Krejci line 1-0 despite owning an edge in possession. Matthews described it as a “stepping stone” for his group.

So, what’s the next level look like for him and linemates Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson?

“Just more dominant,” Matthews explained, “having the puck even more, creating more offence, being good in our own zone and communicating. I think that's been a big key for us is just communicating in all three zones not just as a line but as a five-man unit and even with Freddie [Andersen], make sure we're talking and being there for each other and having outlets all over the ice.”

Mike Babcock believes the Matthews line is trending up.

“He was real good last game,” the Leafs coach said of Matthews. “He was real good defensively and then ended up with the puck more. I thought Kappy had his best game in a long time and then Johnny on the power play, but, just in general, was physical so when you go through all three of their games I thought they were a lot stronger and that’s important, obviously, for us.”

But the Bruins are also pleased to have limited Toronto's superstar centre to zero points in five-on-five play.

“If it starts in his own end we can force him to defend there and expend energy there,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think we’ve done a good job of that, Krejci and [Jake] DeBrusk for the most part. They're a line-rush line that can really hurt you in that area if you don’t have numbers or reloading and some level of back pressure and keep him to the outside. He's had a couple good looks even with his one-on-one, two-on-twos. He’s rung one off the post in our building. We had numbers back, so he’s always going to be dangerous there."

There's also a chess match playing out with Cassidy trying to limit the time and space Matthews gets in the neutral zone.

“He had some in our building a little bit,” Boston's bench boss noted,........

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