Post Game: Challenge Accepted
Despite a lineup heavily laden with inexperienced youth, the Maple Leafs responded in a big way in the second half of a home and home against the Flyers. Solid performances from the like of Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, Tyler Bozak and Jake Gardiner propelled the young team to a 4-2 victory. Some quick thoughts on individual players after the jump.
Mike Komisarek – He continues to make positive progress in his game with the hopes of regaining his form from 2-3 years ago. The positional play was solid, he did a good job playing the angles along the boards and was effective in winning pucks out of the corners. Offensively, he’s still treating the puck a little bit like a grenade on his stick, making several rushed decisions that either resulted in a turnover or put his defensive partner in a tough position. The physical tone isn’t quite up to the level it was, but at least he’s cut down on defensive miscues.
Ben Scrivens – Another solid performance. You can really see the effect of Francois Allaire on Scriven’s game as his compact, angles-driven style was quite reminiscent of Sebastian Giguere and James Reimer. On the Â handful of difficult saves he was forced to make, he relied primarily on good anticipation and good fundamentals in lateral movement as opposed natural agility or explosiveness. Doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you get the job done. He’s almost ready.
Jake Gardiner – Does not look shy at all. Unafraid to make aggressive decisions in the offensive zone and displayed plenty of creativity and playmaking ability. Beautiful skating stride on the rush. Bailed out Komisarek on a few plays by skating the puck out of trouble.
Matt Frattin – Clearly it’s between he and Kadri for that 3rd line wing opening alongside Armstrong and Bozak. He scored a nice goal during 4 on 4 play and got himself into a couple of shooting chances where he could unleash that lethal slapshot. The little Â skills like dumping pucks in and chipping pucks out are coming along but not quite yet NHL calibre. I imagine he’ll get another shot but right now it looks like Nazem’s job to lose.
Jonas Gustavsson – Looking better. Still moves a little too much in the net and has trouble finding pucks in traffic but was quietly reliable for the most part.
Jay Rosehill – Good on him for stepping up to Boyce’s aid. May earn a look as the team’s 13th forward to start the year.
Tyler Bozak – I’ve been quite impressed with Bozak’s play thus far this preseason. He’s gotten considerably stronger, particularly in the upper body, and you can see the impact of this in his solid board play. He’s angling well and muscling opposing players off pucks and protecting pucks along the boards. Developing some nice chemistry with Armstrong. Looking like this Â be a very nice 3rd line fit.
Phillipe Dupuis – Playing well, doing a good job of contributing at both ends of the ice. One of the team’s more aggressive forecheckers and does an excellent job harassing opposing defenders and using an active stick to slow down the breakout. Underrated offensive ability and he’s got a pretty good wrist shot that he hasn’t had the chance to show off much thus far. Should earn a checking role.
Luca Caputi – Showing some signs of life! Solid game tonight. Did an excellent job using his size and reach advantage to protect the puck and create several scoring chances from behind the net. Could be a darkhorse to see some time alongisde Bozak and Armstrong at some point this year if his level of play keeps up.
Overall, a pretty good night all-around. It was nice to see the team come back and rebound from a ho-hum performance with a strong 60 minute effort. They had their legs moving from the opening puck drop and were particularly effective in their cycle game in the opposing end. The defenders were a little hesitant handling the puck all night, but that’s to be expected when you take out three of your top offensive blueliners.
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