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.
@Shift_Disturber1 Yea, but we have no one to put on LTIR.
@-Keon- All the speculation out of Philly revolves around Meszaros being moved
@-Keon- He's also UFA next yr .
@Burtonboy That helps his cause.
@-Keon- You never know. Sakic liked him.
@Xxxxxnew I still believe that the team that gives Liles a chance won't be sorry. He needs an offensive role, solid minutes, and a chance to work through some rust, but if he gets it, I think he'll deliver
@-Keon- I think he was joking...
One of his off ice attributes is his ability to mentor young players. Might be a fit in Colorado, depending on the financing arrangement.
I hate the scabs. I hate the turds. I've always had an intense dislike for Detroit. I am so sick and tired of everyone telling us how skilled a team they are and have been for many years. (Unfortunately this part is true). But last night sealed the deal for me.
On Detroit's first goal last night they had a forward in front of Bernier. When I say in front, I mean in the crease. When I say in the crease I mean both of his skates were completely inside the blue paint. I guess since he wasn't sitting on Bernier's head there was no goalie interference. Pure skill there.
On Detroit's second goal, Toronto had possession of the puck in the O zone. After not one, not two, but at least 3 hooks and perhaps 4, Detroit "stole" the puck and went down the ice and scored.
And now they have the Clown man.
I will have to ruminate on this but with Detroit now in our division there may be a new #1 on my list of teams to hate.
@Knights2Leafs The media and refs are definitely going to make them the hardest to stomach. I also expect the Leafs to be officiated very strictly in an effort to control/limit our toughness. So the contrast will be noticeable, and frustrating.
@Knights2Leafs we may be brothers lol
...when I see a schab clown suit jersey with a toilet seat crest my blood pressure sky rockets.....
@Shift_Disturber1 Sara Orlesky?
@Shift_Disturber1 are there any sideline reporters not on the planet?
i think Colboune will be moved before the season starts (hopefully in a package with liles) b/c if we cant keep him up then there is no point in letting him go free on waivers.
@Black_Hawk Keons bird predicted Gardiner is traded tomorrow so get ready.
@Xxxxxnew Haven't heard much about the trade in months. I think we won that one.
@Xxxxxnew Not a star player though.
Worth repeating from the article:
"Most importantly, the much-maligned Phil Kessel was more productive against the Bruins than Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa were combined, silencing many of his most vocal critics. He was even more productive against the Bruins than either Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane."
@Shift_Disturber1 I'd take John Mitchell back in a heartbeat...
What are ppls thoughts on Phaneuf so far? Im not a hater at all but do see him being passed on the offensive depth chart by some other dmen and wonder if his d-game has improved enough
@mlclearwater He will likely lead all our D in scoring, while playing against top lines.
@mlclearwater Same as always...our best dman...will play effective minutes against ever top line in the NHL and put up 40-50 points.