The Leafs will ice their top 6 forwards and what seems to be (as of today) their opening night defence group against a fairly weak Senators lineup in game #6 of preseason at the Air Canada Center tonight.
Nikolai Kulemin will flanking Kadri in David Clarkson’s projected spot. I think he’s the best fit for filling that role in Clarkson’s absence; of all of the productive line combinations Kadri centered last season, I thought the best iteration was him with Lupul and Kadri. Kulemin played one of his best stretches of hockey since his 30-goal campaign in his stint beside Kadri last season. He was doing all the small things right (first in on the forecheck, defensively responsible), battled hard as he always does, and can keep up with the pace of the other two. His play opened up some space for Lupul and Kadri to work their magic.
On defence, this group of 6 does not instill total confidence in me for when the real games start:
Phaneuf – Gunnarsson
Fraser – Gardiner
Rielly – Ranger
Phaneuf and Gunnarsson have proven capable of being a better than adequate top pairing, and Rielly and Ranger could potentially eat up weaker competition off the bottom pair, hopefully without costing the team too much in their own end of the rink. I’m not confident Fraser-Gardiner would be up to the task against the other team’s second scoring line. Maybe Ranger plays his way onto that second pairing and makes us forget about Franson, but to be honest Ranger and Gardiner seemed to be (while a very talented pairing) hazardous together. It might be best to ease Ranger into NHL action.
Part of my concern is Fraser clearly being out of his element when he flirted with top 4 minutes toward the end of last season. The other part is that Gardiner may need to play with someone capable of compensating for his loose defensive play. In principle, I like the idea of Gardiner being complemented by a stay-at-home guy who can win battles and make a short pass over to Gardiner. I’m just not sure this combination is up to the task under a 20 minute workload against good competition.
James Reimer will get the start, looking to build on his strong performance on Saturday in Buffalo (38 saves, 15 stops in the shootout).
Maple Leafs Pre-Season LinesMaple Leafs Pre-Season Lines vs. Ottawa Senators
Senators Pre-Season LinesSenators Pre-Season Lines vs. Maple Leafs
cant wait till friday doing my annual detroit preseason game and bringing my 5 year old to his first game
The last two game vs. Detroit should be interesting. The players on both teams need to be getting a hate on for the opposition to revive the rivalry. Ooooohhh Baby!
JVR has looked terrific so far, Lupul looked good and Kadri quiet tonite
On D, Ranger made a couple of poor pinches that hung Riemer and Rielly out to dry
Carlyle must have given Rielly the green lite - he was pushing fwd all nite. He was probably a -2, but not all his doing
For a a couple of big m id round picks, Devane and Broll can play the game a bit
Right now, Devane looks to have Fraser Macs spot and Ashton takes Clarksons
Lost to the Baby sens tonight, good bc now cuts will be made tomorrow..JC, BROLL, HOLZER, Smith are my picks....Keep Ashton and Devane up.
JC had a horrible gm tonight, too many giveaways and no offense.,
@wiski Of the mangoes or the pot
@Optimustic and i will be there
@GeorgeCastanza That they lose money in a prosperous Canadian city of some million people is perplexing.
@Cameron19 ya that looked kicked in to me as well
@CanuckUKinToronto Yeah, I thought it was a fairly well played game. Not too many dumb penalties.
@Dangle_My_Berries ya got to show more earlier
@Dangle_My_Berries Not Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!
@CanuckUKinToronto ashton off a nice cycle
@CanuckUKinToronto cmon clarkson!
@Belfour20 Young players going full out trying to earn a spot.
@Belfour20 players not playing to their full potential
@lukethenuke ....It's the pre-season.
I agree with you, he's a cheap option but man I'd trade him with LILES in a heartbeat to get some cap space...Not impressed at all with JC...Ashton and Devane have showed more
@Cameron19 @lukethenuke holy shit... like phaneuf, like clarkson earlier, like lupul, like colborne, i dont care who it is they havent looked good YET. When they do, i will acknowledge... if kule was a rookie fighting for a 3rd line role right now i wouldnt be too too impressed thats all... show me something soon like the rooks are.
Devane, Macwilliam, JVR, Gardiner, Rielly, reimer, bernier, gunner, ranger sometimes have all impressed!
@Cameron19 @lukethenuke other vets have looked good (kessel, JVR, Gunner, Ranger ...), others havent... and ive called out the poor performing vets... clarkson being one, who turned it around... waiting for lupul, bozak still and if dion plays like he did after his goal then he too has turned it round.
@Cameron19 sum it up: not expecting word beating performance, but more than plug like- replacable like performances lol... play better than the bubble players thats it lol