Marner knows Leafs in for tough series with Blue Jackets

Mitch Marner’s message is easy — issues won’t at all times look fairly.

Like a lot of NHL gamers, the Maple Leafs winger has been again on the ice with a small group of teammates working off some appreciable rust for the reason that league moved to the voluntary Part 2 of its return-to-play protocol final week.

Offered that medical and security situations permit, it is hoped coaching camps will begin July 10 adopted the resumption of the pandemic-delayed 2019-20 marketing campaign that includes a 24-team format that will see high-flying Toronto face the gritty Columbus Blue Jackets in one in all eight best-of-five qualifying spherical sequence.

And Marner is aware of that distinction in fashion will current a major street block in his staff’s path to the playoffs.

“Each recreation’s not gonna be excellent, each recreation’s not going to be what we would like it to be,” Marner stated on a convention name Thursday. “It should be a tough recreation each single recreation. They arrive out flying.

“All of us acknowledge that and everyone knows that is the problem at hand.”

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Marner stated it has been good to get again into the Leafs’ apply facility to work out on and off the ice John Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev, Jake Muzzin, Cody Ceci and Jack Campbell. There are no coaches on the ice, gamers should bodily distance, take temperature exams, put on masks when not exercising, and preserve observe of a grocery record of different well being measures.

Nevertheless it beats rollerblading in his driveway and logging kilometre after kilometre on the stationary bike.

“It felt bizarre stepping on the ice,” stated Marner, who was off his skates for 10 or 11 weeks. “It felt nice to be again on and it felt nice to be on the market capturing, dealing with the puck and having enjoyable.”

Marner approves of security protocols

And he is been impressed with the league protocols in place to maintain everybody protected throughout his three-hour stints on the rink, which will probably be essential because the NHL and the gamers’ union proceed to hammer out the ultimate particulars on coaching camps and the 24-team format.

“The NHL has every part underneath management by way of what I’ve seen,” he stated. “They’re doing all the proper issues.

“They’re gonna do what’s greatest for his or her athletes.”

The Leafs and Blue Jackets each had 81 factors from 70 video games when the NHL paused its season due to the novel coronavirus on March 12.

Toronto struggled out of the gate, modified coaches in November, and endured an up-and-down marketing campaign the place the roster by no means regarded something like Stanley Cup contenders.

Columbus, in the meantime, survived a mass exodus of star-studded expertise in free company final summer time and a lot of key accidents throughout the season, however managed to remain within the post-season dialog.

The Blue Jackets shocked a talent-ladened roster within the first spherical of final spring’s playoffs with a surprising sweep of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, however Marner stated the Leafs solely wants to fret about themselves.

“I do not assume we have to change something,” stated the 23-year-old, who completed second on the staff in scoring behind Auston Matthews with 67 factors regardless of lacking 11 video games as a consequence of an ankle harm. “It is simply ensuring after we get on the market we’re doing all of the small issues, we’re doing it proper, we’re doing it accurately.

“We began actually retaining one another accountable.”

Matthews, Andersen stay in Arizona

The vast majority of the Leafs’ roster has returned to Toronto for Part 2, however two notable absences are Matthews, the staff’s star centre, and No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, who’ve been ready out the pandemic collectively in Arizona.

However Marner, who’s shut with each gamers, stated he hasn’t been bugging them to go north, understanding that because it stands, every must quarantine for 14 days after getting into Canada.

“All these items’s voluntary,” he stated. “In the event that they assume that it is higher for them to remain at house and do all their exercises and skating there then I am all for it.”

However this sluggish jog preparing for a possible return will quickly flip right into a dash.

“It is gonna be a bizarre feeling,” Marner stated. “It is ensuring daily we will dial in every part in our recreation.

“We all know [Columbus] is a really hard-fight staff, and we gotta be prepared for it.”

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