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As happy as he was to finally steer the puck past the goal line, that Mitch Marner overcame some internal hurdles is more important.

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The Maple Leafs’ star winger came off a scoring slump when he scored against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, ending a streak that dated back to last season and had reached 16 games.

Not only did that goal emerge as the winner when the Leafs won their second in a row, giving the group a bit of a swagger on their way to a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, it was a reward for the improved play that Marner has done. brought in the last couple of games.

For the 24-year-old, an examination of conscience helped him get to a better place on the ice.

“Mentally wise, I realized that I have to stop worrying about everything,” Marner said after practice at the Ford Performance Center on Monday.

“Just get out there, play hockey and do what I love, have fun with the puck and do what you can.

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“The last week or so, it was really just pushing, clearing my mind, playing this game that I have a chance to do. I think that’s really what helped me a lot in the past week: sticking around, making plays when I have that opportunity, but also sticking to our game plan and doing the right things and trying to create opportunities. “

Captain John Tavares’ line between Alex Kerfoot and Marner has developed good chemistry, and after the win against Detroit, coach Sheldon Keefe made no changes to his lines for Tuesday against Las Vegas.

Keefe also made no changes to the defense corps, so the new-looking pairs will remain intact. For the second game in a row, Justin Holl will watch from the sideline as Timothy Liljegren gets another look with Rasmus Sandin.

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Jack Campbell will be in goal after Petr Mrazek scored his first win for the Leafs against the Wings.

By no means are the Leafs, in general, out of the woods. A 4-4-1 .500 record in nine games is not showing off material, not for a group that has the firepower talent it has, although a confident Marner has the potential to help the club win by third. consecutive game.

And Marner himself is well below the high level he has set for himself, with just one goal and two assists in nine games.

Marner said he’s been talking to others behind the scenes, presumably the Leafs’ new peak performance coach Greg Harden, and has been watching videos of his NHL highlights, of which there are plenty.

For Keefe, there have been crucial indications that Marner is in the right frame of mind.

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“A lot of what these players do is easier said than done,” Keefe said. “The actual work that has to be on the ice to deliver it is a tall order at the NHL level, no matter how talented you are.

“It certainly appears to be in that place. He seems free to me, he’s out there doing his thing. Two games have looked like this. It has an extra bounce in its stride. He seems to be very patient and ready with the puck, waiting for the plays to develop and then executing. “

The unusual way Marner scored, entering the forecheck behind the Detroit net and intercepting a pass from Wings defender Nick Leddy was a positive sign for Keefe.

“It’s not a coincidence, when you do a good process like that and you feel good, the record bounces your way and you get a goal,” Keefe said. “This is how things go. That’s why you preach by focusing on what you can control and the details and you work and you compete and you let your skill take over.

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“Although it’s not the kind of goal that they’re envisioning going into a game, once that happens, all of a sudden, you’re not pushing as much.”

The key now for Marner is to keep his mind focused. The fun-loving Marner is the one who had racked up points in previous seasons.

“I focus on what I can focus on,” Marner said. “That’s coming here every day and being the guy I’ve always been. Have a lot of fun with the guys and go racing when the time comes. “

We apologize, but this video could not be loaded.

DOUBLE ROOT CHANNEL, ALL IN ONE WORKING DAY

Mitch Marner got a little speechless last Thursday.

Not that the Maple Leafs winger had a choice.

Three days after Marner accidentally got his smile changed in a game by the stick of Carolina Hurricanes defender Ian Cole, Marner found himself in the dentist’s chair once the Leafs returned from their three-game trip.

Three hours and two root canals later, Marner’s intense appointment was over.

“The dentist did a good job,” Marner said, then added with a touch of sarcasm, “It was a good day off … a good time, a good time.”

Looks like more dental work awaits you.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Marner said. “At the moment, I just wanted to put things in my mouth that I could go back to eating real food, chewing, and going back to my regular diet.”

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