September 28, 2011
Kulemin: Don't be predictable
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Nikolai Kulemin has learned a valuable lesson in the National Hockey League — don’t be predictable.
The right winger on the Leafs most productive line in training camp says he, centre Mikhail Grabovski and left winger Clarke MacArthur are constantly revising their playbook.
“We always try to do something new, because other teams are always watching us,” Kulemin said Wednesday at the MasterCard Centre.
“The three of us talk, we always know what we’re doing. It’s not a problem speaking English for (he and the Russian-speaking Grabovski) now. I ask (teammates) words I don’t understand and they explain it to you. Most Russian kids learn some English, but in my school it was French. But now I’ve forgotten everything.”
The line is a combined plus-7, led by Grabovski’s six points, but the two will be taking a lead role as penalty killing forwards again this season, after their efforts helped improve Toronto’s numbers towards the end of last season.
Kulemin says new assistant coaches Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon have worked on “little details” that should lead to even better results on special teams.
BROTHER ACT ON TAP?
The Lashoff Brothers reunion is still a possibility.
Matt, a Leafs’ defenceman, remains with the team heading into the weekend series with the Detroit Red Wings, who are considering a spot for younger sibling Brian on defence. The brothers have met in AHL games (Marlies vs. Grand Rapids), but never at the NHL level.
Their parents, who live near Albany, N.Y., are waiting for the green light, though if the meeting were to be Saturday in Toronto, it would cut their long drive by a few hours.
BEN WANTS TO WING IT
Another Leaf waiting to hear if he’ll get one more NHL audition this weekend is undefeated (2-0) rookie goaltender Ben Scrivens. Coach Ron Wilson spoke earlier in the week of using James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson and Scrivens in the three remaining exhibitions, but despite playing Tuesday, it’s hard to think Reimer won’t get another tune-up with the Leafs still a week away from opening the regular season. Gustavsson and Scrivens might end up splitting a game.
“If I do get in, I’ll make the most of it, not try to make any spectacular diving saves,” Scrivens said. “I’ll just try and continue what I’m doing in camp and exhibitions — be solid and try to make things look as easy as possible.”
Scrivens continues to sop up whatever goalie coach Francois Allaire passes on.
“There’s no secret that working with Frankie was a huge reason why I came here after (graduating from Cornell). My game has improved immensely since last season. The other goalies here give you a pointer here and there. Even this past two weeks, I’ve calmed down, been more positionally sound and that comes from more confidence. Going up or down this year, I’ll work hard. I’ve worked with Frankie in a couple of summer camps, so I knew what his program was about and I saw a lot of value in having the opportunity. I really believe in what his program does. I knew we would be compatible. Hopefully, it turns me into a better goalie, but it’s a long process.”