As the NHL gets ready to the regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to take advantage of Austin Matthews. It is expected that William Nylander may miss the start of the season, so Matthews will be an important part of the Leafs roster.
Mike Babcock, head coach of the Maple Leafs is pleased with the team’s progress, especially that of Tyler Ennis, who has filled in for Nylander on the Austin Matthews line. In the pre-season, Ennis scored two goals and earned an assist.
Matthews also has taken note of Ennis’s contributions. He said Innis is shifty and able to get in and out quickly. Matthews added,
“He gave me an unbelievable pass Saturday night and he’s good one-on-one so when he has the puck, get open for him, because he’s quick and slippery and will find you in open areas.”
Ennis, who played with the Buffalo Sabres in his early career had three 20 goal seasons. At 28, he was acquired from the Minnesota Wild last season and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder over it.
Babcock Confident in Ennis
However, Babcock feels confident in what he has seen. Commenting, Babcock said,
” I thought Saturday night he had some real jam in him. It was good for him. Matty is at another level now and his speed through the neutral zone is going to help anybody.”
Patrick Marleau is another who is gaining confidence in Ennis. Marleau plays left wing on the Matthews line and feels Matthews has taken his skating to a new level. He added,
“I think last game, I went low trying to cover for him and I look up and he’s right next to me so he’s getting to the spots in a hurry.”
Marleau said with a smile.
While it is not ideal for Nylander to miss any regular season games, the Matthews line is super charged with Marleau and Ennis, and for the leafs, that should give them some confidences and peace of mind while they wait for Nylander to rejoin the line.
Matthews noted that Nylander is a he’s a big part of this team but added that the Leafs has a team of talented players and many guys are looking to increase the roles they play. Jake Gardiner, once of those that is a big contributor added, when speaking about Ennis said,
“He’s a heck of a player, obviously, complements Matthews really well. They work well together. But, if that’s the case [with him missing] to start the season, Ennis is a good fill-in and I’m sure we’ll do pretty well without him.”
The regular season gets underway next week. How the Maple Leafs will fare this season is highly anticipated after the signing of John Tavares.