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TORONTO a€“ Just about everyone had cleared off the ice from practice on Monday morning, but there just outside the crease of the goal with a batch of pucks was the player few could have expected to be here. He was the smallest player on hand at Maple Leafs training camp a€“ generously listed at 5-foot-8 and nearly 170 pounds a€“ but by the time the annual two-week exercise was through, nobody in Toronto may have made a bigger name for himself than Brandon Kozun, the plucky, smallish 24-year-old from southern California. Kozun is ultimately a symbol of the competitive environment Torontos coaching staff and management team hoped to create this fall and then again for the coming season, one where merit looms largest. A deeper batch of forwards means (or so the club hopes) a constant battle for ice-time and opportunity, a reality the team rarely had last year or in seasons past. Hes made it very difficult for us to not have him here by the way hes played, said Leafs general manager, Dave Nonis, of Kozun, stressing that he had much to prove in the days ahead. But that is the type of competition that we need. Theres going to be somebody not playing on Wednesday [in the season-opener] that probably expected to and thats fine. We made statements that there was going to be opportunities afforded to people who came in and earned them, added head coach, Randy Carlyle, and we feel that some people have stepped to the front of the line and showed us that theyre worthy of at least starting with our hockey club. Kozun, a Kings sixth round pick in 2009, stood out more and more as the exhibition season rolled along, his combination of speed, disruptiveness and offensive potential proving attractive to team brass. He tallied five points in six games, including two assists and a rewind-and-replay caliber of goal in the finale against Detroit on Friday night. Its exciting to get a chance after playing a couple years in the minors, he said, the reality of the moment yet to set in before Wednesdays opener against Montreal. Its pretty exciting for myself, but on the other hand, theres a lot of work to be done. Im not going to try and get comfortable, Im going to try and keep working hard and see where it goes. The Leafs have to hope that such an attitude infects their dressing room, one that sees teammates pushing one another for opportunity. They didnt have it much last year. Depth forwards like Jerred Smithson, Troy Bodie, Colton Orr, and Frazer McLaren were ill-equipped to capably play higher in the lineup if the need arose and the team suffered because of it. There are a number of players in this group who have the potential to play up and down the lineup in a variety of positions a€“ Daniel Winnik, Mike Santorelli, and Leo Komarov can all play both wing and centre a€“ a luxury that offers Carlyle increased flexibility. I think our third and fourth lines are going to look different than they have in the past, said Nonis. Those third and fourth lines will be interchangeable many nights. Peter Holland could be the third line centre one night and fall behind Mike Santorelli a night or two later if his performance dips. The Leafs hope that pushes a young player like Holland, who offered hints of potential in 39 games last year, to work harder, train longer, and perform more consistently. And if hes not up to task, someone like the 28-year-old Santorelli will be there to scoop up the extra opportunity. You have options, Carlyle said. If we feel that somebody is not giving us what theyre capable of, then theres an option of somebody else going in and taking their minutes. Its cruel, but were here to win hockey games and thats what weve got to do. Winnik is amongst the new crop of depth forwards the Leafs brought in during a busy offseason. Skating in Anaheim the past two seasons, hes well-versed in the type of competitive environment Toronto is trying to create. There was no better example of that last year than the now-retired Teemu Selanne, benched at points with the Ducks during what proved to be the end of a legendary career. Guys a legend, definitely a Hall of Fame player, and he got healthy scratched as well so no one was really safe in Anaheim, Winnik said. It just pushes guys to be better every night. If you have a spell of bad games or if it goes further than that, a spell of a bad month, you know youre not going to be in the lineup. It keeps everyone honest, thats for sure. More depth (or the vision of it at least) also means less strain on the Leafs top line, which shouldered a heavy burden last season. James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel all finished amongst the leagues most utilized forwards in 2013-14 and perhaps not coincidentally tapered off in the final weeks of the season. Carlyle has the employ to spread minutes around more evenly a€“ on the penalty kill, additionally in the case of Bozak and perhaps, van Riemsdyk a€“ and thus gather contributions from areas of the lineup which offered almost nothing tangible last season. That will aid in improving the teams possession at even-strength and drive the speedier brand of hockey Carlyle has talked about implementing this season. I think were deeper, Nonis said. We didnt have the depth up front that we have this year. As for Kozun, whom the Leafs acquired from the Kings in a January trade, Nonis didnt envision a standout camp of this kind. He imagined the Los Angeles native pushing for a job and proving his worth as a depth player, but hes performed at a different level than we anticipated. This is no finish line though for Kozun, or so he (and the club) hopes. Its been a long couple years, he said, so Im not going to take anything for granted. Adidas Falcon España . - This win was more the New Jersey Devils style. Adidas Gazelle Mujer Baratas .Y. -- AJ Allmendingers journey is almost complete. http://www.baratasnmd.com/.com) - Semyon Varlamov more than earned his third shutout of the season as he made a career-high 54 saves to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Adidas Prophere Baratas .Chanathip Songkrasin opened the scoring in the sixth minute before Kroekrit found the target twice in the 57th and four minutes from fulltime.Vietnam and Malaysia play their second leg on Thursday. Vietnam won the first leg 2-1. Adidas Ultra Boost España .Y. - Major League Soccer is prepared to start its season this weekend even if there isnt a labour deal with its referees and other on-field officials.PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The numbers, at least by James Harrisons impeccably high standards, arent good enough. Not by a long shot.Try to offer the occasionally snarly Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker an olive branch about the improvement in the teams run defence over the last two months and he swats it away.By no means is it where we would like it to be, Harrison said.Maybe, but the Steelers (9-5) are closer to respectable than they were two months ago. After a sluggish start in which the front seven played as if stuck on a treadmill running in reverse, Pittsburgh is showing flashes of reponsible play.The dividing line is pretty clear, at least on paper. The Steelers are 5-2 in their last seven games, allowing less than 100 yards rushing in all five wins and more than 100 yards on the ground in both losses. Whichever trend holds up on Sunday against Kansas City (8-6) will likely determine whether Pittsburgh ends the weekend with its first playoff berth in three years.Pittsburgh is 11th in the NFL against the run, not bad until you consider the franchise ranked in the top 10 every season from 2004-12, a stretch that included three Super Bowl appearances and two championships.Harrison, who has been limited by a knee injury the last two weeks, knows the difference between good and great. At the moment, he figures the Steelers are passable at best.Were going to continue to work at getting it better and getting our defence all-around better, Harrison said. Our location and assignments and just making plays when we in position to make plays.Theyre coming, but not with the frequency Harrison would like.Pittsburgh has given up just two rushing touchdowns since Halloween, including a fluky 20-yard sprint by Cincinnatis Andy Dalton two weeks ago that proved only a footnote in a resounding 42-21 win over the Bengals. The large swaths of green grass opponents darted through in September and October have closed up of late as Pittsburghs revamped group of linebackers has discovered some cohesion.Injuries to Harrison, Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier forced defensive co-ordinator Dick LeBeau to give Arthur Moats, Vince Williams and Sean Spence extended playingg time.dddddddddddd Finding the right mix with so many new faces was not easy. Pittsburgh gave up 132 yards rushing four times in the seasons first seven weeks, often putting up little resistance until running backs were well into the secondary.I feel like in the past weve got hurt because we were trying to do too much at certain times and we werent as mentally disciplined as we need to be, Moats said. Weve got to keep our eyes on our assignment. For us to go forward and go where we want to go, we need to continue to do that.Considering the way quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the NFLs top-ranked offence is currently piling up yards and points, the Steelers dont need to shut opponents down so much as they simply need to slow them down.Theyll face perhaps their biggest test of the season from the Chiefs, who rely heavily on the electric running back tandem of Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. The two have combined for 1,388 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. While Kansas City quarterback Alex Smiths inability to throw to a wide receiver in the end zone has become a punchline of sorts, Moats figures that just makes what the Chiefs are able to do even more impressive.Even without an outside threat, Kansas City is in the thick of the post-season chase even though everyone knows exactly what is coming.The fact that theyre still winning games and havent been able to have passing touchdowns like that, it shows that theyre a very resourceful team, Moats said.One that figures to put whatever momentum the Steelers believe theyve found to the test. With the defence as healthy as it has been all season, Pittsburgh is running out of time and excuses.Earlier in the year we were getting used to guys, guys didnt really know how each other are playing, Jones said. Guys are feeding off each other now and getting into the right places. I think its all coming together.NOTES: Safety Mike Mitchell (groin), safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and tight end Matt Spaeth (elbow) did not practice. ... Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (shoulder/forearm) were limited.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL ' ' '