The Leafs dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Philadelphia Flyers in a sloppy second game of preseason. Remarkably, Phil Kessel took 6 minutes worth of aggressive stick infractions.
Becoming known for eating up his former team, James van Riemsdyk opened the scoring after cutting off a pass on the left board in the neutral zone. He got in behind the Flyer defenceman and roofed it far side on a goaltender named “Heeter.”
Answering for the other side of the transaction, Luke Schenn tied the game at 1s with seconds remaining in the first frame. Mark Fraser awkwardly tried to block a point shot (that was going wide) and it wound up bounding off his foot and splitting Jonathan Bernier between the wickets. Bernier was yelling at Fraser to get out of the lane, apparently.
Jamie Devane restored the Toronto lead in the second period by accomplishing something I expect he’ll do rarely if ever again in a Leaf uniform, which is score a goal. Coming off the bench as Trevor Smith battled for the puck, the disc sprung loose before Devane skated onto it and threw a slapshot on net. Brad Ross’ presence around the goalmouth seemed to distract Heeter as he got beat cleanly on the short side from 50+ feet.
Bruno Gervais tied the game at 2s in the third period, stepping over the blueline and beating Drew MacIntyre clean over the glove. After some heroic bail outs in the second half of the second period, MacIntyre had a good look at the shot and probably should have had it.
The game needed a shootout, which took many rounds to complete. JvR, Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson scored for the Leafs in the losing effort.
A few thoughts:
- Pretty garbage game to watch. It’s hard to make judgments and will be until teams start icing something closer to their real lineups plus one or two bubble players.
- Clarkson wasted no time making an impact in this one as his renowned intensity was apparent from puck drop. He had a nice chance in the slot on his first shift as his line alongside Carter Ashton and Greg McKegg applied some early pressure. Clarkson provided another good shift to start the 2nd. After chirping at Rosehill off the faceoff, he got in on the forecheck and outbattled the 6’6 Oliver Lauridsen for the puck. He threw a hit, separated the man, retrieved the puck, and sent it back to the point. The Leafs did not have enough forwards who could do those things consistently last season. The shift-to-shift intensity, his work rate and pure fury when he competes down low is a breath of fresh air. Clarkson also dropped the gloves with Nicklas Grossman after sustaining a big hit from Grossman earlier in the shift.
- Jonathan Bernier put on a solid 16-save performance in his 30 minute half. He made his biggest save on Nick Cousins in the second period. Cousins pulled it around the sprawling defenceman and Bernier rather calmly closed down the angle to make the save. Bernier also got some praise from the broadcast crew for leaving his crease to make a smart play on a loose puck that got in behind a Leafs defenceman in the first period. In the second period, Bernier made a sharp reactionary poke check to negate a fast-developing scoring chance right in his goalmouth. Just the one goal against for Bernier, which he was handcuffed on.
- Petter Granberg seems like he needs a good chunk of AHL time to adjust. He had a better third period, but he looked a little lost to me in the first 40, whether it’s the pace, style of play, size of the rink, or all the above.
- T.J. Brennan moved the puck well, and showed off a nice point shot on a few occasions.
- I saw two nice scramble plays around the net by Andrew MacWilliam where he might have saved a goal. He moves pretty efficiently for a big man. He also caught a Flyer with a nice hit at the offensive blueline that drew a bit of a crowd. Two good showings in a row from MacWilliam, who is ahead of Granberg if I am arranging my depth chart based on these past two games (he’s also two years older). Granberg needs some time.
- Tough game to make a call on any of the bubble players at forward.
- Rielly had a tough second period. First he got beat outside by Luke Schenn, of all people, leading to a chance in the slot that MacIntyre snuffed out with a great glove save. Anthony has mentioned this before, but for a great skater Rielly seems to get walked on to the outside on occasion. This was Luke Schenn, to boot. Rielly also went on a little fishing expedition later on in the period and got caught up ice, leading to a breakway which McIntyre also bailed him out on. It’s tough, because ideally Rielly could work on a few of these things playing against men in the AHL. It’s tough to send a kid with those skills and that type of poise beyond his years back to junior, but I think I’m for it. Rielly will have plenty more preseason appearances to try to change that impression.
- Jake Gardiner was his high-event self, pulling off some pond hockey stunts. Flying forward with reckless abandon, flying back to cover his butt.
Game in Six