Here we go again.
With Brian Burke back in the news, it’s fitting that his greatest contribution to the Maple Leafs — a rebuilt farm system — take center stage in the days leading up to actual meaningful hockey. The Baby Leafs have a gold-plated defense group and a forward contingent that breaks down fairly nicely into scoring lines and checking lines; the lines should pretty much roll themselves.
With players like Morgan Rielly trying to make an impact prior to the start of Leafs camp, and guys like Leivo, Biggs, and Percy looking to solidify key roles with the Marlies, the stakes are a lot higher for these kids than they may seem to fans on the surface. These aren’t your typical pre-season games and they’ll provide a great glimpse at what the future has in store for the big club.
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Very physical period for both team, even if you don’t count the two fights.
Pittsburgh scored first on the PP when Harrington’s shot beat Gibson, unscreened. It was tough to tell from my vantage point whether the Penguin at the side of the net was a factor but Finn definitely lost body positioning on him, giving him the inside lane to the net. Finn was otherwise reasonably solid.
Toronto responded first with the pair of fights and after winning those, supplied anecdotal evidence that fighting impacts momentum, taking it to the Pens for the rest of the period. Both Ruperts got on the board as the Leafs scored a powerplay goal at the side of the net. It was a bit of a greasy one with Biggs floating around the net as well but the shot was a pretty tight angle and Rupert did well to hit it.
Standouts: Percy’s defensive play was very strong that period — something he’ll hope to carry into Leafs training camp, I’m sure. Also, Ross’ physicality was noteworthy and borderline dirty, which is exactly where we want him to live.
(Matt) Rupert goal (1-1):
Things calmed down a little bit in the 2nd after a very eventful 1st period.
Pittsburgh struck first again, on the PP, after Gibson left a rebound on a point shot sit 8 feet in front of his crease. He made a pair of nice saves on rebounds but the defense was caught napping and the Penguins were able to put it away.
As with the 1st period, the Leafs answered shortly thereafter with Ross and Verhaeghe doing the yeoman’s work and Fabrice Herzog reaping the rewards in front of the net. Nothing has been particularly pretty for the Leafs so far tonight but they’ve been rewarded when they’ve worked hard.
Standouts: Granberg’s transition game was really slick that period; he gets the puck to the forwards in stride and at the right time. Ross had an even better period in the 2nd. He was creating and his aggressiveness led to a few turnovers.
Herzog goal (2-2):
The third was a pretty uneventful period but it did provide Toronto’s nicest goal of the game. Andrew Crescenzi made the game 3-2 Leafs, flipping a one timer over the goalie in transition after he and Devane made a couple passes down ice.
The Penguins weren’t content to let me go and warm up though and scored to tie the game with seconds left (you can keep your playoff collapse jokes to yourself, thanks).
In the shootout, both Percy and Ross scored (Ross in the extra shooter portion) and with that, the Baby Buds have started the rookie tourney 2-0.
Part of the comments after the Leafs Rookie Tournament four years ago:
2010-2011 European Breakout Candidate: Sondre Olden
Was it really even possible to consider any other name here? This is the kid whom was heavily scouted by the Red Wings’ Swedish Super Scout Hakkan Andersson (Hello Zetterberg and Franzen!) prior to the 2010 NHL Draft, and one whom intrigued the Leafs’ scouts so much that they traded into the 3rd round (leapfrogging Detroit in the process) to take him. Can you blame them? Even based on a very tiny sample size from the Leafs’ rookie tournament, where he was 3-4 years younger (he just barely turned 18) than most of the other players, Olden flashed significant potential in the speed, size, creativity and skill departments. He’s done a heckuva representing his home nation of Norway internationally so far with a ridiculous 22 points in 5 games at the WJC-18 D1 en route to a gold medalÂ and thenÂ another one at the WJC-20 D1.
How'd we do? I missed the game entirely....seems I got poison ivy a week or so ago. Grrr so spent the evening at the hospital instead of the arena. Anyways looking forward to going again tomorrow night!
Geese, I can see Ross stepping right in to where Komarov left off. I was very impressed with Ross's overall game, he plays as advertised. A very nice goal to win it in the shootout too.
Sounds like Ross had the type of game you would hope for from a guy who has had a season with the Marlies... Nice. Percy good, too.
Shootout time. Pittsburgh's forwards all suck so this may be the first time I'll get to see three defensemen shoot in succession to start
The last three Leaf games have all involved the loss of late leads. None worse than tonights. #trollface
Gauthier is an awkward looking monster out there. Big, big kid
@wiski JVR in bottom right corner of video
@wiski Have to wonder if his body will be able to withstand the grind of the NHL.
@Alec Brownscombe Ross was Boss tonight.
@Alec Brownscombe but how is our goalie alec? that's the bigger issue...those sucky forwards put 3 by him
@Alec Brownscombe he has looked a lot better playing with the Ruperts tonight
@BleedBlue @Alec Brownscombe He didn't look as good as Sparks IMO
@Jay31 no need to panic then....another shootout victory for the blue and white...LOL
@Waiting4LSC Pens tied it up with a few seconds left. Curt has good coverage in the live tweet stream above