OTTAWA – Mikhail Grabovski is proving his worth to the Leafs. wholesale jerseys . Stringing together 11 goals and 23 points in the last 21 games – currently in the midst of a four-game point streak in which hes registered nine points – the 28-year-old impending UFA is asserting himself as a rather integral part of a club pushing toward the postseason (currently 8th in the East, 8-4-1 in the New Year). The skill-set of the five-foot-eleven Belarusian is a rather unique blend of raw skill and rugged tenacity. "First of all, hes a great skater and hes really skilled," Carl Gunnarsson observed. "His skating helps him a lot," Gunnarsson continued. "Hes not a big guy so hes not going to crush guys down in the corner or anything, but he plays it smart…When hes coming up the ice and hes trying to make those moves his feet are so wide apart so hes got that balance too and keeps the speed." Grabovski started slowly this season with just seven goals and 13 points in his first 24 games, but began to rediscover the flair of last season just before the New Year. A recommitment to the defensive zone sparked the influx of offence, notably in January when he posted 16 points in 12 games. "He didnt have too many points in a couple of games there and then he scored two in Florida I think and after that he just took off," Gunnarsson said, referencing a two-goal outing from Grabovski in late December. "He started to create more and he was starting to do the defensive work better and after that the offence came too I think." Rediscovered chemistry with Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin has also helped matters; the trio has been responsible for eight of the teams last nine goals while also performing capably in a shutdown capacity. "That line with Mac, him and Kulie, when theyre working well the puck is like on a string," Gunnarsson said. "I dont know how they do it, but it seems like they always think a step ahead." On pace for 30 goals and 60 points – after career-highs of 29 and 58 last season – Grabovski is by far the Leafs most productive asset down the middle and certainly due a raise from the $2.9 million hes earned in each of the last three seasons. Assigning that value may prove tricky with uncertainty surrounding both the cap and next collective bargaining agreement. Five Points 1. James Reimer makes his second consecutive start in goal in Ottawa on Saturday after posting a 25-save shutout against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The road hasnt been kind to the 23-year-old. In eight starts away from Toronto, Reimer has posted a 1-4-1 mark with a bloated 4.02 goals against average and .868 save percentage. At home hes been considerably better with a 7-1-3 record, 2.14 goals against average and .926 save percentage. 2. Ron Wilson offered the following explanation on his decision to start Reimer against the Senators in favour of Jonas Gustavsson, who had a strong month of January (7-3-1) but faltered down the stretch (along with his teammates) of a 5-4 shootout loss to Pittsburgh earlier this week. "Its who we feel most comfortable with and whos playing well," Wilson said. "Reims deserves to back up the shutout he had the other night by getting another start." 3. Like Reimer, the Leafs have had their fair share of trouble on the road of late, winning just three times in their last 11 games (3-6-2). Theyve allowed 40 goals in that stretch for an average of 3.63 per game. The difference on home ice is striking. The club has won eight of their last 11 at the ACC (8-3-0), yielding just 18 goals for an average of 1.63 per game. 4. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul have hit their first extended skid of the season, combining for just three goals in the last 10 games. "We knew at the start of the year – I remember saying it a bunch of times too – its probably not going to be smooth-sailing for our line the whole way through as far as points go," Lupul said. "Right now, just keep working and were going to have one of those breakout games sooner or later." "Theyre getting the shots, theyre getting scoring chances, and its just one of those times where the wells a little dry," Wilson said. "They get a goal here or there and suddenly their confidence will bloom just like it has for Grabo or Clarke MacArthur in the last couple weeks." Kessel and Lupul have combined for six goals and 11 points in four games versus Ottawa this season. "The teams winning so its not an issue where you can really get too down on yourself because youre letting the team down," Lupul concluded. "Were winning games and other guys are stepping up and thats what good teams do." 5. Of note and certainly a factor in the recent struggles of the duo has been the suddenly ineffective Leaf powerplay, 2-28 in the last nine games. "Thats something with John-Michael Liles back [from injury] that we hope will improve and thatll also give those guys an offensive boost as well," Wilson said. cheap jerseys . The Dominican Republic beat Panama 92-68, but lost Sosa for at least six months after he broke his right leg with only 37.9 seconds remaining in the game. Sosa was injured when he fell among a pack of players under the basket. Teammates and opposition players were near tears as they gathered around him following the fall. cheap nfl jerseys . -- New York Yankees centre fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was sent for an MRI Thursday of his ailing right calf, which was negative.Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild will be the captain of the U.S. mens hockey team at the Sochi Olympics. Minnesota defenceman Ryan Suter and centre Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings will be the alternate captains, U.S. general manager David Poile announced Friday. The 29-year-old Parise was an alternate captain at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago, scoring the goal that sent the gold-medal game into overtime. He has experience on U.S. national teams going back to 2002, and he welcomed the chance to take a leadership role in his second Olympics. "Its a special thing to be named captain of any team, but when its a national team, an Olympic team, its extra special," Parise said. "Weve got a lot of players who are great leaders. Im going to get a lot of help. Im going to need a lot of help. Its very humbling." U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said Parises work ethic and no-nonsense playing style are exemplary of the attitude he wants for his team. The Americans arent considered a gold-medal favourite, but a roster packed with NHL star power is expected to keep them in contention. "Were a team thats got a blue-collar mentality, and Zach embodies that," said Bylsma, also the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "Every time we play against Zach Parise, there has been a work ethic, a never-quit, a determination, an abrasiveness about a hard-to-play-against type of player. And its every time regardless of the score (or) the situationn our respective teams might be in. cheap jerseys from china. That is exactly how we want our team to play." Parises alternate captains have extensive leadership experience as well. Brown and Suter were both alternate captains to Jamie Langenbrunner on the U.S. team at the Vancouver Olympics. Brown is the longtime captain of the Kings and an international veteran, while Suter and Parise are both alternate captains of the Wild. Suters father, Bob, won a gold medal with the "Miracle on Ice" team in 1980. "Theres plenty of guys that wear letters with their own teams, so I dont think our team is going to be lacking in leadership at all," Parise said. "There are plenty of guys that are capable of doing that." The American team will hold its first practice in Sochi late on Feb. 10. Most players wont arrive until a few hours earlier, after the NHL begins its schedule break. Parise acknowledged the unique challenges of the Sochi Olympics, including the players adjustment to a hefty time change in just a few days before their first game against Slovakia on Feb. 13. He also recognized security concerns around the Olympics, calling it "unfortunate" that security "has dominated a lot of the conversation." "You have to put your trust in the Russian police and the security were sending over there as well," Parise said. "Were going to be in good hands. We can just relax, focus and concentrate on playing hockey." ' ' '
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