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Nylander feels like he's ‘getting the full mojo back’

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13.04.2019

SPORTSCENTRE Reporter

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TSN Toronto reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on the Maple Leafs, who held an optional practice at TD Garden on Friday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have held two optional practices this week and William Nylander has been on the ice both times, one of o​nly a handful of regulars putting in extra time on the ice.

What's he focused on?

"Just handling the puck and stuff like that, keeping it 100 per cent," he said.

Nylander will often use a weighted stick before practice in order to improve his touch. At Tuesday's optional workout he was repeatedly working on plays in tight to the net. He says that feel for the puck is what eluded him at times during a rocky regular season.

"That’s what was missing and, I mean, just getting the full mojo back and the confidence so that was a big factor," he explained. "Feel and feeling like you can make plays and stuff like that. That was growing and growing throughout the season."

Nylander never seemed to sustain his top level of play during 54 regular season starts finishing with just seven goals and 20 assists. The contract stalemate that cost him training camp and the first two months of the year left him out of sorts. But as he plodded through the worst scoring drought of his life, Nylander was always anticipating this moment.

"That was my goal throughout the entire season … to get ready for the post-season and get ready for when it starts," he said.

The playoffs give Nylander a chance to dramatically change the narrative about his season.

"It’d be huge," he said when asked what a big playoff push would mean for him.

Right now, it feels like the slate has been wiped clean and Nylander has a fresh start.

"It's a little different," he said of what he's feeling these days. "I mean, postseason, everything means so much so just been looking forward to that and now we're here."

It feels different and in Game 1 it looked different.

Last year, Nylander struggled to break through against Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, but on Thursday he used his speed to draw an interference penalty on the big defenceman in the third period.

"He couldn't really do much, it would've been maybe a breakaway so he kind of had to," Nylander said.

Bruins get their first penalty on Chara's interference. pic.twitter.com/AbIqe8Pyxt

Nylander currently skates on Toronto's third........

© TSN