Kadri comin’ on

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Dallas Eakins just wanted his Toronto Marlies to start playing as a team.

That they’ve done it well enough to catch the eye of management at a time when the parent team is on the rocks is coincidence, but the farm coach can’t control the optimism in the room that continued success could result in a phone call.

“I don’t dismiss the fact that everyone on our team is on the internet and reading papers,” Eakins said after his team went on a five-game points’ streak. “Our guys are aware our big club is losing. That’s not anything to do with us right now. I’ve got them in solid roles and we’re comfortable with our game.”

The player everyone is monitoring of course is centre Nazem Kadri, now at the point a game pace that was projected. However, there are still challenges with making the first round pick from 2009 a complete centre.

“Every game, he has gotten better,” Eakins conceded. “He’s getting up to where we want him. That’s what the (October demotion) was all about. A lot of the things he needs, he already has.”

Kadri’s weak defensive game has been the focus of his stint with the Marlies and Eakins says that is the easy part to work on.

“It’s teaching him the little things, like backchecking through the middle, getting the puck deep when there’s trouble. He had bad habits. But this kid is firmly on track and we’re encouraged by his progress.”

Bravo, Jiggy

The Leafs didn’t hear about goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere calling them out until the day after their 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but few were going to say they didn’t deserve it. Giguere’s case was that the Leafs have a mostly young team that shouldn’t look as tired as they did at the start of the Lightning game.

“It’s true, there is no reason to be tired,” defenceman Francois Beauchemin said before Wednesday’s game against the Panthers. “We’ve had days off, we’re a young team. You have to use the rest when you need to. We need all 20 guys to be ready right off the bat.”

While Dion Phaneuf is known as the Leafs’ most vocal player, Beauchemin says Giguere commands just as much respect.

“He’ll talk when he feels he needs to, between periods when things aren’t going well and when things are going well, he’ll say ‘keep going’.”

Beezer a tough Cat

Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was inducted into the Broward County Hall of Fame before Wednesday’s game. He was the leader in wins by an American-born ‘keeper with 374, with 106 of those with Florida between 1993-98. The Cats made it to the ‘96 Cup final in what became known as the Year Of The Rat, losing to Colorado.

“I was 5-foot-8, 175-pounds and had to get my mind focused on everything that had to do with hockey on game day,” Vanbiesbrouck told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “If I didn’t get my mind in a good place, I wouldn’t be a consistent player.

“I once read in Sports Illustrated where Phillies great lefthander Steve Carlton visualized every pitch of a perfect game and then acted it out to perfection. At the morning skate I’d take notes on what players were hot. If we were playing the Flyers, I’d visualize the tendencies of the Legion of Doom; John LeClair, Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg. I didn’t have the luxury of (video).”

Loose Leafs

Tyler Bozak improved to fifth in NHL faceoff percentage with 58.6% after the Tampa game...Radek Dvorak tied ex-Leaf Robert Svehla for most games by a Panther on Wednesday with his 563rd start..Despite the Leafs’ woeful offensive output of late, Clarke MacArthur remained in the top 20 of league shooting percenage before Wednesday with a 22.6 mark, seven goals on 31 shots.


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