The Leafs took a 3-2 decision in tonight’s preseason match on a late scrappy goal by Dave Bolland (he’s good at those). There was some injury concerns after Nazem Kadri blocked a shot with one of his patented nifty mittens, but early reports indicate it is just a bruise.
This was a preseason game, so it was far from pretty. Players come into these games with significantly different levels of motivation, skill and rustiness. While many look at skill as the most significant of these qualities, consistent high level success in the NHL necessitates enormous amounts of motivation and effort. To see this concept in action, one needs to look no further than the Senators themselves. With their personnel and heavy injuries, Ottawa has attained success in the past two seasons largely due to a team-wide dedication to bringing it every night and following their gameplan. The mentality to do whatever it takes to win is what separates the Alexander Semins from the Jonathan Toews. It’s the basis for any sustained success in this league and something that Toronto should look for in all their players.
That being said, there were a few notes of interest from tonight’s tilt:
-Nazem Kadri is a shining example of a player with this very mentality. Along with a ridiculous amount of skill, it is what makes him a truly tantalizing part of this team’s future. He flashed the skill with a quick move for the first goal of the night in tight. He demonstrated the never-say-die attitude by throwing hits and willingly blocking a shot (that subsequently elevated the average heart rate of Leafs Nation). With talent and even more determination on his wings (e.g. David Clarkson) – the sky’s the limit for Nazem.
-Paul Ranger took a soft penalty in the first, only to come out of the box and hit a post on the counterattack. Ranger’s long term future with this club is still very much up in the air, but it is looking more and more like he will provide a reliable presence on Toronto’s blueline this season. In some respects, he brings a similar presence to aspiring Maple Leaf Stuart Percy (minus the size difference). Not necessarily a dynamo at either end of the rink – but skilled, smart, and dependable. The type of cost-effective, safe blueline presence that all contending clubs need.
-David Bolland can join Kadri, Clarkson,
Grabovski and Phaneuf as players that would go through a wall to will this team to victory. When Kessel’s shots aren’t going in or Reimer/Bernier are off their game, it will be the workmanlike attitude of this group that will keep Toronto in every game, giving them a chance to win through grit and determination where pure skill may falter. Sure, his numbers (advanced and otherwise) were not great last year, but Bolland has that fierce competitiveness that will make this club an absolute pain to play against on any given night. Proof? He paid the physical price on his game-winning goal tonight (he was also the beneficiary of some nice work by Morgan Rielly on the point).
-Bolland adds to the dynamics of this team in a few ways. First, McClement-Bolland got some looks on the PK tonight and could certainly become an effective duo going forward. More importantly, Bolland and Kulemin are both dogged on the puck and just as hard to get off it, with their work yielding results a number of times tonight. Mason Raymond brings speed and some offensive pop to this line, along with the underrated ability to just skate the puck out of trouble if needs be. This is a third line in the mold of Carlyle’s vision that this club hasn’t seen in years.
-Speaking of Mason Raymond: he wants that job. Unless cap issues confound the situation, the Leafs should give it to him. A cheap, one year contract to prove his worth (talk about sustained motivation). Using his trademark speed, Raymond has stood out in every game he’s played so far. While his offensive output faltered at times in Vancouver, fans and analysts never faulted him on his effort or defensive determination. Really, the only counterarguments to Raymond’s inclusion on this club have come from supporters of younger Leafs getting a “chance” in that slot. The reality is, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that injuries will be removing players from this lineup in short order. Raymond is versatile as he can easily be either a checking line winger or a fixture in the top six. Get ‘er done Nonis.
-Jonathan Bernier looked his usual calm and collected self in the crease tonight, despite nursing a minor injury that caused him to leave after the first period. The Toronto media will drum up this “goaltending controversy” for as long as humanly possible, but in reality the picture won’t be clear for months, if ever. Given both goaltenders’ skills and relative experience, it is quite likely that they put forth similar levels of quality play in the Maple Leafs net. My gut tells me this is one of those situations where a shared load in the crease may truly benefit the team – at least for this season.
Of course, we’re all hoping Carlyle and co. decide to start trotting out something closer to the opening nights lineup in the preseason games ahead. Certain veterans are still adjusting and taking their time to round back into game form, but with a few key personnel decisions yet to be made, it would behoove the team to get into full gear as soon as possible.
Don't know if anyone noticed, but even with so many players "not" looking good, the team still won (yea it's preseason)...this is mainly because of the syatem and dare I say, a little talented depth...
@peterbleafs I thought that was the best game Ive seen Rielly play at any level and Percy came as advertised, smart and effective.
A month ago , Ranger was thought to be a cheap bottom pair guy. Now he looks like a cheap top 4 guy.
The Leafs are in the enviable position of having too many defenseman.
If MacWilliams is thought to be ready I can see both Gunnar and Fraser being moved by the trade deadline
I was really impressed with Percy and Rielly last night. Both of them are NHL ready and even that other guy Marshall played very well. Colborne looked pretty good, but still plays a bit tentative, as if he just needs to add some self confidence. However, he was solid on the PK and later in the game did some good fore checking. Ranger looks really good as well.
I disagree with Savo on his opinion of Colborne.
JVR Bozak Kessel
Lupul Kadri Clarkson
Raymond Bolland Kulemin
Orr Colborne McClement
This should be our opening night roster IMO.
Random note, but if Clarkson doesn't find chemistry with Kadri, I wouldn't mind seeing him with Kulemin and Bolland instead of Raymond. Regardless of the Clarkson contract (which will honestly be the only reason Leaf fans hate this idea whether they admit it or not), i actually like this lineup better.
Lupul- Bozak -Kessel
JVR- Kadri -Raymond
Kulemin- Bolland -Clarkson
Broll- McClement -Orr
Fuck Kadri is sick. Those little sauce passes in between dangles he does at full speed are effin ridiculous. He gave a beauty sauce to Raymond only to get it back and snipe for our first goal, and gave JVR a sick sauce for a scoring opportunity. Kid is ready to take the next step you can see it. What a beauty.
To make cap room for Franson and Raymond the obvious choice if we can move him would be Liles but the chances of moving him with his salary it does not seem likely. However I wonder why more people are not pointing their finger at Gunnerson. He has been average at best and seems to have lost a step. He is not aggressive, doesn't put up the points and his 3 mil could be moved.
IMHO I think it would be easier to move Gunnerson via trade and garner a return while doing so than to move Liles. I am not just looking at the preseason but dating back to last year it seems his play has been regressing. I hope the hip injury that nagged him last year just needs time for him to catch up to where he was 2 seasons ago.
I would not be surprised if Kadri and Raymond play on the second line with either Lupes or JVR should Clarkson struggle during the season. Clarkson Holland and Kule would also make it a nasty 3rd line to play against for other teams.
Everybody here might appreciate this: you know how crazy ol' Eugene Melnyk likes to harp on about drunk Leafs fans ruining the experience for everyone at Senators' games? Here's one for you...
I took a group of 20 international high school students to the game tonight (I'm their teacher, so I made them wear blue under the threat of losing marks) . Most had never seen a hockey game before. Sitting right in front of us is some drunk asshole in Senators gear, jumping up and chirping us and flipping us off and all that business. Guy fucks off after the 2nd period - I think he probably got tossed, he was so wasted.
Anyway, we all get back to our bus after the game lets out, and what do we see, but this same drunk asshole Senators fan ON OUR BUS, yelling and swearing at the bus driver. Keeps on yelling and chirping as I'm removing him from the bus. Meanwhile, every single one of these kids now thinks that Senators fans are all like that (though I may have suggested that myself).
Dear Mr. Melnyk: go fuck yourself with a cheese grater.
P.S. Most of the kids are now Leaf fans, and chanted "Go Leafs Go" with me during the game...and afterwards, a couple of them said to me, "Sir, can I learn how to play hockey?"
Just got home from the game...I've gotta say, Clarkson did not look good tonight. Seemed lost away from the puck, and couldn't do anything with it when he got it.
That being said, it is, of course, still preseason - plenty of time to iron that shit out. And there was a lot of very sloppy play from a lot of guys tonight.
so apparently Bernier has a undisclosed injury thats why he only played one period and kadri got a bruised hand
Based on the small sample of preseason games, which of these 3 options would you take?
1) Gunnar – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Franson
2) Gunnar – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Ranger
3) Ranger – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Franson
I’ll take door #3. I like Gunnar and would rather keep him, but if Nonis can't get rid of Liles and if getting Franson signed means trading Gunnar, that's what I'd do. Get her done Nonis. And fast.
Agreed on everything. The only thing I might change is have McClement at center and Joe on the wing.
Well the good news is the combination of Raymond and Clarkson only costs us an average of $3.15M per player. : )
Not Clarkson hasn't be a top 6 for his grit and toughness. Raymond doesn't bring that. Exactly what happened when kadri got in a fight last night, Clarkson was right there to jump in. They will be fine
@blueandwhite Gunnarsson was very solid in the playoffs last year so not sure what you saw there. He's a steady two way defender who is very smart with the puck, and underratedly good at separating the opposing teams offense from the puck (albeit mostly done without the body). Sure he's tradable, and I'd rather have Franson, but to suggest he is "average at best" is completely wrong.
@blueandwhite I do not agree on Gunnar, but signing Raymond should be straight forward.
3 dangerous lines should make the Leafs a worthy opponent on most nights.
You would have a lot of possibilities:
LW : JVR , Lupul, Raymond,
Center: Bozak , Kadri , Bolland
RW: Kessel, Clarkson , Kulemin
27 possible combination if am not mistaken.
And if McC and Colborne are on the fourth line - Carlyle can roll that line as well with a RW.
@T_Ry The sober Sens fans sure don't ruin the experience for the drunk Leafs fans do they. ... :-)
@T_Ry I honestly don't think Clarkson has looked good at all yet. They were raving praises on TSN after his first game against Philly, but not gonna lie i wasn't blinded like they were by his scrum tactics that don't even pertain to the actual flow of the game lolll. Its only been pre season, but you're right, he hasn't looked good. Im sure its just rust and finding a niche and comfort level with new linemates.
@T_Ry Whole team looked pretty awful, TBH. There were a couple of sparks, but the balance of play was pretty "meh". I'm damn happy hockey is back, though.
@Pent_House preseason's time to iron that shit out lol
@Pent_House Absolutely.....we are a much better team with Lups in the lineup.
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Over 2M in Van, but probably under a 1M here
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan 925 or 1M
@CanuckUKinToronto I like these with exception of Percy. I'll excuse him for nerves alone but he whiffed 4-5 passes and fumbled the puck several times in the offensive zone. Looked out of sorts out there and I'd be shocked if he gets another preseason game. Future looks bright though! No doubt about that.
@CanuckUKinToronto Dion is on honeymoon, his interest is in bedroom not on ice. Give him a quality partner , Dion is fine.
I mostly agree but one thing I've noticed is that Gunnar has been way more physical so far this year in taking guys out or pinning them against the boards. Actually, I thought he played more physically in the Boston series than he did in the regular season.
@CanuckUKinToronto I feel it is almost time to call it quits with Colborne. He has been given a ton of opportunity and even with Kadri injury last night Carlyle kept him on the 3rd/4th line.
The boat is sinking with Colborne and if he doesn't prove himself this weekend they may try to trade him.
Colborne + Liles for...anything!
@CanuckUKinToronto Are you datingAshton sister?
I'd rather see a 4th line of
ORR MCCL. ASHTON
Colborne imo will be packaged to Calgary or Ana,,,Colborne has done nothing in my eyes to warrant a top 12 spot, RC may keep him on the roster as a 13th forward as he would be plucked off waivers.
@Jordan29 Why do we always assume our offensive players need ppl to fight for them? Kadri would've pumped Pageau, and i don't see anybody on Kessels line that would've fought for him. These are our scoring lines, the other lines can easily stir shit up if they need to. If Clarksons offensive creativity is anything like he's shown so far, he should not be in the top 6.
@newkb Traded or cut (aka waivers). He has sucked.
@CanuckUKinToronto And there is no way that Percy outplayed Rielly...Maybe in the Rookie Tournament because Rielly got 1 game, but not against men.
@-Keon- 100% agree
Fair enough, but we're going to run with a 28 year old with 24 games of NHL experience? Is he even a center?
Umm, you did watch the game last nite right? Colborne was centreing JVR and Clarkson and after the first period kadri was moved into the centre spot, and when Kadri left the game Colborne returned to that spot on the line and did nothing...I'm sorry but this was an important camp for Colborne and he hasn't shown much, the reason why he hasn't been cut yet is he would have to clear waivers and is a former 1st rd pick 5 yrs ago...and to answer your question? Bolland moves up to #2, Mcclement #3, recall Smith from Marlies...I'm not a fan of Colbo
Ashton can go down on waivers and wait his turn for a callup. Colborne is much more skilled, he has demonstrated that he has NHL speed and given his size, I'm in no hurry to ship him out of town till he gets a real chance to play with the Leafs. Ashton is scrappier, but Colborne has way better ability to skate the puck up the ice.
Imagine if Kadri had been seriously injured or any of our other centers go down during the year. Who else is going to step in at center? For that reason alone he is more valuable.
Broll hasn't been better though...and the cap hit is the same. Colborne needs more than a couple of preseason games before being cast off to the reject pile..
Bottom line is minor mistakes notwithstanding, this guy has the full package. Size, physical, smooth skater and best of all he plays with composure. He doesn't run around a get out of position. I'm super impressed with his ability to get in the right position and angle forwards off towards the boards.
Oh yeah, and that shot off the post shows he has an absolute bomb for a shot. If he was right handed I'd be saying Franson's job is in jeopardy.
@Pent_House @Dangle_My_Berries Let it go Penter, Ranger will be better than he was for the Marlies im sure, especially with better players to play with. Some guys you can tell, play up and down to their competition. He seems like one of those guys. I'm sure he'll step it up the faster the game gets and the tougher the opponents are.