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Matthews feeling ‘free’ in pursuit of playoff redemption

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09.04.2019

SPORTSCENTRE Reporter

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TSN Toronto reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on the Maple Leafs, who practised at the MasterCard Centre on Monday.

An intriguing scene played out at the end of practice on Monday as Mike Babcock called Auston Matthews over and delivered a message. The Leafs head coach did all the talking while the star centre listened for about 40 seconds. They both wore serious expressions.

So, what was that all about?

"You think I'm going to tell you?" Matthews shot back at the questioner.

Coach, care to shed some light on this?

"No," Babcock stated flatly before smiling, "but thanks for asking, I appreciate it. But you guys go ahead and speculate."

Welcome to the playoffs in the centre of the hockey universe where everything is under the microscope. And the seats are a little warmer than usual here considering what happened last season. Matthews led the Leafs in shots (27), but was held to one goal and one assist during the seven-game loss to Boston. After​wards questions were raised about his relationship with Babcock and the coach flew to Arizona for a meeting.

Now, Babcock and Matthews are again in the spotlight getting ready for another battle with the Bruins. Matthews confirmed that redemption is on his mind.

"Everybody on this team is going into this very hungry," the 21-year-old said. "We want to make up for last year. We felt it could've gone either way there in that last game and to not move on was really frustrating, left a bitter taste in a lot of our mouthes so we definitely want to use that as motivation."

"Last year's last year," said Babcock, "there’s no sense spending any time on that. They have a different team, we have a different team and our guys are growing and they're going to get older and they’re going to get better and some of those losses in life, those little hardships are the best things for you. They allow you to grow and make you grow."

Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock pulled Auston Matthews aside to have a quick discussion following Monday's practice. Neither would elaborate on what the powwow was about when speaking to the........

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