Preseason Post Game: Leafs 2 at Red Wings 5

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The Maple Leafs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Swedish Olympic team Detroit Red Wings tonight. While firm judgement should never be made based on preseason, many of the goals tonight were a testament to the skill that the Red Wings possess and a poor effort from the Leafs. It will be great to renew one of Toronto’s oldest rivalries this season against one of the league’s oldest set of players.

Some notes from tonight’s tilt:

-Whether it be his trademark pinpoint accuracy (shots and passes) or his right-handed presence on the powerplay, Cody Franson is a noticeable difference maker for this team. As I’ve said before, I’m a big supporter of Franson and the steps he has taken in his game over the past few years. He is a physical force in his own end and just turned 26 this August. Some people had issue with signing Franson to just the one-year contract as it will create yet another defenseman in need of a new deal next year for Nonis and co. (at a significantly higher price than his current $2 million tag). So what? If Franson can duplicate (and improve) on his performance from last year, it would contribue to substantial evidence towards a deserved $4 million+ salary for multiple years. Franson has established himself as a top-four defenseman with near-elite offensive skills – and he still has room to improve.

-While he let in five goals, Bernier was OK in net. He flashed the glove and held his ground on a few scrambles, but the game got away from the Leafs as it went on. The first was a forgivable redirection past Bernier with a Dan Cleary screen and Gardiner futilely waving his stick at the puck. The second was the consequence of Bernier’s aggressiveness in net getting the better of him, as he was caught trying to push up in his crease when the Wings put a rebound shot past him.  The final goal also saw one squeak under a pad that was just seconds too slow in sealing off the bottom of the ice.  The rest? Just some guys named Datsyuk and Zetterberg working magic on the powerplay. At the end of the day, both goalies have looked good in the preseason. Out of respect for tenure, you would think Bernier would have had to severely outperform Reimer in the preseason to take the opening night gig. That hasn’t happened – but it’s still a complete mystery which tender will start on Tuesday. Thankfully, both are great options.

-With Kessel out and Clarkson soon to enter his suspension, we have been seeing Carlyle experiment with the line combinations. Tonight, Kadri and Raymond were put together to good effect – making plays happen with their speed and puck movement. They broke into the zone with skill on the powerplay to facilitate Kadri’s opening goal of the night. Then again Kadri’s been productive with just about anybody on his wings since 2012-2013.

-On that note, Lupul was deployed with the de facto checking line (Bolland and Kulemin). Similar to Kadri, Lupul (when healthy) can create offense for his line. He does so with high end puck protection and retrieval in the offensive zone and a knack for making and finishing plays. This line had a solid outing, and presents Carlyle with the tantalizing possibility of three scoring lines as Kessel, Kadri and Lupul are the team’s three most potent offensive catalysts. But, as we all know, Carlyle loves a true shutdown line and it remains to be seen if he’s willing to put Lupul out repeatedly in tough situations.

-Speaking of offensive catalysts, Cody Franson probably holds that title right now on the club’s back end. But consider Jake Gardiner the challenger of note as he consistently flashes his ability to weave and dish with the best of them. There will still be growing pains defensively and the coaching staff would like him to use his shot more, but Gardiner’s development will continue to be a treat to watch.

-How has David Clarkson looked in a Leafs uniform thus far? Not fully himself. He was at his best last game, with a number of shots on net alongside his usual agitation and physicality on the ice. For those wondering why he has looked a bit off, it’s worth considering the unique position he is in: heading into a suspension when the real games start, while taking to the ice for meaningless exhibition games. This is a player that gives 110% every night of the regular season and I fully expect him to bring it when he finally suits up in October.

With just a few days left before the season opener, the remaining lineup mysteries will soon be resolved. The unfortunate victims of cap realities and suspensions may be players like Carter Ashton. The former first rounder looks like he could be an effective bottom six player, but may have to wait a bit longer for his opportunity at the NHL level.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    I still say Franson had a good game.  Happy he’s back in the fold.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    TheCanucksnaphook 
    What trade idea??  Musta skipped that class.

  • Pent_House

    No mention of Ranger in there? He was horrible all night.

  • Mattmark

    TheCanucksnaphook Oh no, here we go.  We just got out-skilled, 5-2, so let’s de-skill the roster even more.

  • Nikhil Daljeet

    Pent_House 
    Yeah, he overstepped the puck on that second goal and didn’t look great alongside Fraser.  Forgettable night for Ranger..

  • Mattmark

    Nikhil Daljeet Pent_House Ranger and Fraser are the logical third pairing, but give them half a season to get their act together.

  • Pent_House

    Mattmark Nikhil Daljeet Pent_House He’ll be playing like that all season long.

  • Cameron19

    Mattmark TheCanucksnaphook Yea, I really hope we don’t trade the skill we have.  The issue is still that our forwards cannot generate enough zone time.  Clarkson doesn’t seem to be helping at all, and neither does Bolland.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Pent_House Ranger needs to play protected minutes to start… his decision making is sketchy at times

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    -Keon- 
    lol

  • Zep2

    Cameron19 Mattmark TheCanucksnaphook Bolland seemed out of sync with his line mates. 
    There are a lot of new and rusty faces in the lineup. might be a factor

  • Burtonboy

    Not sure why Carlyle is crapping on Gardiner . Had 2 assists and 3 of the 5 goals against where on the PP. Strange comments from Carlyle.

  • Mattmark

    Zep2 Cameron19 Mattmark TheCanucksnaphook Let’s give them some time to hit their stride.  It’s a little early to return a verdict.  Borje Salming looked awkward the first few games he played.  Lanny McDonald didn’t do much his entire first season.

  • wendelsway1

    Really hope we get off to a good start…..or Dman’s gonna be backordered on razor blades and plastic bags before Clarkson even gets to play his first regular season game…..lol  :)

  • Zep2

    Pent_House The 2nd goal was all on him for sure. Pace is picking up, he needs to get accustomed to the game at this level again.

  • Mattmark

    -Keon- Only on TV.  😉

  • Jay31

    Burtonboy I would understand if he said he could’ve been better defensively, but I didn’t get the “running out of time” part..

  • Burtonboy

    Jay31 Burtonboy Very strange . Jake was hardly the biggest issue out there tonight

  • Zep2

    I wasnt aware of the assists but I was wondering why Carlyle was bitching about Jake for that reason , 3 PP goals. he should of taken Lupul and JVR to task for taking dum dum penalties

  • Burtonboy

    Zep2 I don’t think Jake was on for a goal against was he ?

  • Mattmark

    -Keon- Interesting.  My daughter, who’s just arriving back from Tanzania tomorrow morning, is the only one in our family who’s seen live giraffes.
    I saw Bob McGill as a rookie, though…, and Mike Pelyk was awkward his entire career.

  • Jordan29

    Cameron19 Mattmark TheCanucksnaphook …..Its one game……preseason

  • Zep2

    Mattmark Zep2 Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook Lanny was almost crucified that 1st season by fans and media . Funny Ballard didnt dump him

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    -Keon- Hold on, hold on, hold on

  • Jordan29

    was the clarkson fight anything?

  • Zep2

    Burtonboy Zep2 At even strength, I dont think so

  • Mattmark

    DeclanK -Keon- Skeptic!

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Jordan29 
    Nope

  • Burtonboy

    Zep2 Burtonboy And I don’t think he plays on the PK

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    http://imgur.com/gallery/YzoAWyh

  • Mattmark

    Zep2 Mattmark Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook He did eventually.

  • Jordan29

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan …..stupid ups

  • Zep2

    Mattmark -Keon- I saw Troy Bodie

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    -Keon- 
    We will be outsourcing to India soon.

  • Marlies Man

    So slashing a stick and NOT breaking it is a penalty too now? If that was called every time a game would take six hours to play.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    -Keon- 
    Yep…you heard me.  Gonna be a worldwide thing, too.  BIG changes coming.

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/markhmastershttps://twitter.com/markhmasters/status/383788264663945216
    Gardiner: ‘Feeling pretty good. I think I’ve been limiting my turnovers & still try & play offensive & join the play as much as I can.’

  • Mattmark

    -Keon- After a win we talk hockey.  Right now we’re talking UPS, outsourcing, and giraffes.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    watch us win tomorrow nights game and everything is back to normal lol

  • Mattmark

    -Keon- Speaking of the German blitzkrieg, I remember the time we were in India.  The duchess shot a tiger…

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/markhmastershttps://twitter.com/markhmasters/status/383789324598120448
    Carlyle on Orr, Franson: ‘They were both rusty. You could tell.’

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy i thought orr was skating around better than i had ever seen him

  • Burtonboy

    Dangle_My_Berries Burtonboy Carlyle’s is in one bitchy mood lol No one’s safe right now

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries ya hes been kinda snappy with the media lately as well. Problems with the wife? lol

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries 
    Still better than Wilson (that was a big fucking bus).

  • rustynail

    Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries He must have watched the game

  • .JVR.

    I expect to see McClement moved up to the checking line with Bolland and Kulemin tomorrow night and Colborne inserted as the 4th line centre between Ashton and Orr.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like JVR was given the night off, with Lupul moved up to the top line.

  • Leafbites

    Dangle_My_Berries I know. And listening to guys groan over some of the vets and their pre-season play is just a tad over the top. Talk about lack of patience. Though I have to admit, I find it all very amusing :)

  • Burtonboy

    rustynail Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries It was terrible for sure

  • Mattmark

    -Keon- Sorry, K, you’ve developed a credibility gap.  We know dad was really an arms dealer…