Training Camp 2013 – Day #3, Live from the MasterCard Center of Excellence

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Photo: MapleLeafsHotStove.com

Thanks to Tony Ambrogio aka tips for telling me today’s 10 a.m. practice was at 9 a.m. All good, he was there at the same time and we were both confused.

The first and only person in the arena when I entered was The Sheriff. Colton Orr was working on his shot on the “Rapid Fire” pad at the far end of the MCC. I walked over to observe, but received a death glare from him and decided to retreat. Smart move, in my opinion. And you guys call me dumb.

The Leafs invited Season Ticket Holders (a choice few) down to watch the festivities today, so roughly 100 people were on hand. The security lady gave me the heads up, suggesting “you media guys should stay at the far end…don’t want to be distracted by the kids.” Sweet call, Ma’am.

Onto the Game

The Leafs took the ice at 10 a.m. with the two teams decked out in Blue and White. Not very original, but I see where they are going with this motif. Captain Dion was on the Blue Team and Kid Kadri was representing White. The Hosts of the Hemp Hacienda were Reimer at one end and Bernier at the other. Sorry for that Joe Bowen-like intro, but he was standing beside me all morning.

It was one of those days at the rink where you can just feel the energy. The pace was excellent throughout all three periods of play. Bodies were hitting the ice and solid decision making was generally on display when distributing the puck.

As I mentioned a few times, I have been very pleased with the physical play of Carter Ashton. This kid is fighting for a spot and he made it clear to everybody (as well as management) that he came to Camp on a mission. He took a few runs at players today, with Liles and Blacker being on receiving ends of hits. Frazer McLaren took exception to the hit on Liles, skating over to Ashton to discuss it with a face wash before Ashton promptly slashed him on the hand. McLaren then ripped Ashtons helmet off and fired him to the ice. Reports from the dressing room suggest McLaren has a broken pinky. I thought Carter did a lot of things right this week and cannot wait to see him in the pre-season games coming up.

By now, Leafs fans know the entire 2013 version of the club inside and out, advanced stats included. However, most of us have not yet seen the new faces so I will comment on their play today.

I will begin with Jonathan Bernier. Simply put, he looks like the real deal. His composed and quick movement seems effortless between the pipes. He made a huge pad save in the second period (on the Marlies ice, they switched rinks for each period) that directly led to an odd man rush up the ice on which the White Team scored on Reimer. These are the types of saves a good team needs and they can change momentum in a rapid and timely fashion. Bernier handles the puck effectively and has a good sense of where bad bounces will end up. That to me is a huge benefit as opposed to just swimming/flopping around praying it hits him.

Next up is the PTO-signed Mason Raymond. This kid is an absolute jackrabbit. He can skate the puck out of trouble and get open just as easily. That’s a good combination, and while he seems to have decent hands and on-ice awareness I was concerned about how he would deal with physical play. Would he disappear (remember – he has had major back issues) when he got rocked? The short answer to that question is “no.” He took a bunch of hits today to make plays or chip pucks deep and that is a good sign for his chances of playing on the Leafs this season. He isn’t my favourite player, but teams need speed and we lost quite a bit with Frattin, Grabbo, MacArthur leaving for greener pastures. Maybe there is a spot for him on line #3.

Morgan Rielly. What more can I say about this kid? I loved him last Camp and I love him still. Simply put, he can skate, pass, make smart decisions, and he is not a shrinking violet when it comes to physical play or positioning. He is going to make it beyond difficult to cut him from this team and therefore send him back to Junior. I know all of our concerns about rushing a young hockey player into the NHL, but there may be little choice with Morgan. Rielly was paired with Dion again today (same as last camp), and they seem to gel very well together. I thought Morgan was more effective this time around because he didn’t always default to the Captain to make plays. Rielly scored on a nice wrist shot from the high slot in today’s game. Credit to Tyler Biggs, who was screening the goalie at the time. Little things like that go without fanfare but I like it to be noticed.

Finally, Paul Ranger. I actually don’t know what to say about his play, other than it’s so solid I feel like I am being misled. How can a guy like this be out of the NHL for so long? His passes always hit their intended target, and his first pass out of his zone led to two breakaways today. He is so sound in his positional play in his own end and always gets his body between the forward and his goalie. He skates well and is strong on the puck when he decides to pinch. I don’t want to blow too much hot air up his Bauer pants, but, man, this guy could be a huge steal. Cody Franson, are you watching this?

The final score was 6-3, but it really didn’t matter much. It was another opportunity for the Coaching Staff and Management to see what they have in this ever-deepening organization. There will some tough cuts to make, but I believe some are pretty obvious. It was told to me that the Leafs will continue to carry a few extra bodies into the pre-season, so their regulars don’t have to deal with punks from other teams running around at them trying to make names for themselves. Smart move and with the injuries to Lupul, Orr and now McLaren; those extra players will come in handy.

Standouts from the week: Reilly, Ashton, Ranger, Raymond, Kessel (on Day 1) and Big Joe Colborne. Oh, and Gardiner and Bernier… the list goes on.

I won’t trash talk anybody in particular, but the individuals who had weak days at the MCC have an opportunity to show differently in the pre-season games or they may as well have packed their bags.

Thanks for following along with my incessant ramblings on here and via Twitter. It was a fun three days being down at the MCC and fielding questions from all of you. There will be plenty of video links here at MLHS from our friends at TSN, Sportsnet and of course Leafs TV.

If you have any questions, please fire them off to me as I am sure I missed a huge amount but will gladly fill in any blanks.

See you all soon. The pre-season starts tomorrow!

  • JeffNB

    You mention Joe Colbourne being a standout. Think he looked better than Raymond? It seems likely those two are competing for that last spot on the third line.

  • Favell66

    Thanks for the awesome post. Its great to get the inside scoop on things that the everyday fan, just doesn’t see or hear.  Pretty cool.  Keep up the good work

  • Joe_17

    How has Kadri been doing Phook? With all the battles going on at different spots in camp we havent heard much on our top 2 centers. From you or anybody for that matter

  • B_Leaf

    I’ve always thought Ashton was a dud. Sounds like he is really motivated. But I know what Carlyle is likely saying to him…better show up like this against the enemy…if Ashton takes a game off, he won’t be hangin around after running his team mates.

  • Xxxxxnew

    I was looking for some infoo about Raymond the other day that was based on watching him play regularly in Vancouver. I found a writer on a website who was sorry to see Van cut him loose described him as “Alberta farmboy tough” not in terms of fighting but in terms of the dirty areas he was willing to play in in the ice.

  • Spayde_D

    I’d be interested in a few names:
    Kulemin, Bolland, Bozak, Phaneuf, Fraser
    How have they looked if you don’t mind. Also, has Liles been able to separate guys from the puck?
    By the way, I really love these updates/write-ups.

  • Xxxxxnew

    He’s younger than Kadri and Jake. Too early to be a confirmed dud.

  • Doorman

    Phook!!!  Your Dumb!!!  LOl

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Awesome work the past three days, Phook.

  • TMLConnor

    Phaneuf and Reilly would be sick.

  • WendelGilmour

    Nice work, again, phook. You may force me to look at Ashton differently with comments such as you made. I really haven’t been impressed the last couple of years, but maybe he’s starting to get it.

  • Burtonboy

    Great stuff Phook . Thanks again

  • Burtonboy

    Bit of video form the scrimmage 
    http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console

  • Cameron19

    I’m happy for Carter Ashton.  Didn’t he have a string of injuries last year that kinda slowed his progress?  Nice to see him turning the corner.

  • Cameron19

    Spayde_D Those guys are all vets at this stuff though – you rarely see anything spectacular from guys like that at a training camp.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Nice job Phook. Thanks for taking the time to do this all.

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 Kid has had a bunch of injuries since he was traded  . People forget he started his career in the AHL like a house a fire . Had 19 goals up to when he was traded to the Leafs

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    nice job bud!

  • Joe89

    I like Ashton’s fire but is it really wise to be taking hacks at roster players? Drop the gloves sure but slashing? He’ll get destroyed quick in an NHL game for that

  • wiski

    Great job snap, on the Mason front remember he played with a bunch of pussies and it may have rubbed off on him, he could grow a pair knowing Orr and Fraser have his back. 😉

  • Cameron19

    Joe89 Happens all the time in real games.  Jason Arnott made a career of it.

  • Black_Hawk

    nice to hear good things about bernier asthon ranger reilly and Raymond hope ranger does become a steal for us

  • Black_Hawk

    wiski yeah but too bad mclaren got hurt today

  • Black_Hawk

    Cameron19 yeah hope he continues

  • Black_Hawk

    Burtonboy Cameron19 didnt know that, some nice info

  • Black_Hawk

    and thanks for the blog phook

  • Black_Hawk

    Cameron19 Spayde_D yeah doubt you’ll see much in pre-season too

  • Black_Hawk

    Xxxxxnew up until his broken back he was taking a great step with van in terms of development but then the said injury happened and he digressed big time.

  • wiski

    Black_Hawk wiski Ya I was looking forward to seeing him on the PK

  • Optimustic

    Joe89 I was thinking the same thing.  It’s nice to have toughness, but it has to come with smart moves.  That slash may not have decided his fate, but I can’t help but think the coaches won’t remember it.

  • Burtonboy

    Black_Hawk Cameron19 Spayde_D They are required to dress a minimum of 8 NHL regulars in each exhibition game I do believe. They do charge for theses games and you can’t completely short change the fans

  • Joe89

    Optimustic Joe89 agreed. It’s one thing to be gritty and nasty and it’s another to injure a future teammate

  • theacs1966

    Black_Hawk wiski It be a shame if we had to put him on IR  and used that cap for Riley’s 9 game tryout, or to bank some cap for whenever/if ever we sign Franson.  Yep, it’be a real shame.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Only cuts so far are the ones you hit on the range :)

  • theacs1966

    TheCanucksnaphook theacs1966 Black_Hawk wiski Do you think Broll over Biggs if either makes it?

  • Black_Hawk

    theacs1966 TheCanucksnaphook Black_Hawk wiski yeah i think broll is more along than biggs and that biggs needs more time developing

  • Black_Hawk

    TheCanucksnaphook theacs1966 Black_Hawk wiski yeah would be interesting

  • Black_Hawk

    TheCanucksnaphook Joe_17 hopefully he gets better

  • theacs1966

    TheCanucksnaphook Joe89 Good to hear, because he can’t score worth a shit at the AHL level, so he better be able to do something……..Still would rather have Aulie back..

  • wiski

    theacs1966 Black_Hawk wiski Devious mind lol

  • dlb eh

    who is this guy, the new Simmons?

  • theacs1966

    wiski theacs1966 Black_Hawk Moi?

  • wiski

    theacs1966 wiski Black_Hawk Re cap space oui. 😉

  • dlb eh

    TheCanucksnaphook dlb eh 
    oh, uh.  nothing sir.

  • theacs1966

    TheCanucksnaphook JeffNB Untapped upside with Joe C. over Ramond.

  • Black_Hawk

    TheCanucksnaphook JeffNB me too

  • wiski

    Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook and a few habs were sent a packin.

  • theacs1966

    wiski theacs1966 Black_Hawk And we have reached my French ceiling.

  • Black_Hawk

    TheCanucksnaphook Black_Hawk no problem, all you man

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    “The Hemp Hacienda” …nice one, I dunno if Bowen will use that one though. Two thumbs up for the report.