Preseason Post Game: Game #8 – Red Wings 1 at Leafs 3

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Leafs vs Wings
Photo: MapleLeafs.com

The Maple Leafs and the Red Wings both decided to save their best for the regular season and ice watered down rosters for the last game of the pre-season. Beyond that, I will spare you a lengthy introduction and jump right to the game:

#1: Prospects Look Hungry to Start
The first period opens with a welcome increase in pace compared to the end of last night’s effort. The kids know they are on Hockey Night in Canada and they look to have brought their ‘A’ games with them. D’Amigo creates scoring chances on his first three shifts with a solid fore-check. McKegg uses his speed and smarts to create a two-on-one rush, but Colton Orr takes the pass in his skates. Colborne looks good skating down the wing, but has trouble converting the effort into something meaningful. The Leafs mostly control the play to start the game.

#2: Rielly
Morgan Rielly continues to show flashes of being NHL ready. He is far from flawless, but he is able to use his speed to get back into the play so effectively that it rarely seems to matter. More frustrating is how often he looks to have created something, only for the play to fall apart at the last second. A few times in the first period he managed to get loose in the offensive zone with guys rushing towards open ice, or at the net. His passes seem to be constantly- ever so slightly – just off the mark. It would be nice to see him play with the likes of Kessel and company when they aren’t giving their pre-season effort. We need him to move from looking dangerous, to being dangerous, and I don’t think that evolution is far off.
NOTE: This trend continued throughout the game.

#3: Using the Points
Detroit seems to have made a concerted effort to use the points whenever they get the chance. It started after their first scoring chance of the game when Nyquist created a three-on-two streaking down the left wing. Once the rush attempt is over, the team seems to blindly throw the puck back to the points as quickly as they possibly can. Meanwhile, the point man is just looking to throw the puck towards the net as quickly as he can. Some will say that is just hockey, but it looks to me like this is game plan being executed. We will see if this becomes a trend this year.

#4: Reimer
Reimer looked a bit shaky in the first period. An early shot confused him, and a shot later in the period fell underneath him, but he had no idea where it was. He also had an opportunity to move the puck and elected to needlessly freeze it instead. That said, when all was said and done, nothing got past him.
NOTE: Reimer needlessly froze the puck again in the second period and it nearly resulted in a goal off the ensuing face-off. Surprisingly the HNIC crew came to Reimer’s defense, noting that he did it because Liles and Rielly were dead tired.

#5: Barb Underhill
A very interesting part of the evening came during the first intermission when Ron MacLean interviewed Barb Underhill. She credits her understanding of skating to Mike Gartner, and the way she studied his stride. She notes that Lupul is lightning fast now – like butter. Kadri has an extra gear she is working on unlocking. Clarkson caught her eye as someone with a really pure glide. She’s very excited about how far Ashton has come with his skating. She is spending a ton of time with many of the prospects; mentioned Devane, Broll and a few others.

#6: Second Period
Leafs keep the pressure up in the second frame. Bodie and D’Amigo create offense on the first shift, and Kadri follows it up by drawing a penalty. And yes, you heard correctly, the referees called a penalty against Detroit – an interference call no less. The man advantage doesn’t generate much with lots of guys getting a chance throughout the two minutes. Kadri and Raymond follow it up a very speedy two-on-one rush that results in a brilliant save by Mrazek. D’Amigo springs Bodie to keep the momentum going, and Mrazek makes a nice save on the back-hand.

#7: The Pace Slows
Around the midway mark of the second period the game started to slow down and become a neutral zone battle. The Red Wings do have a way of removing emotion from the equation. Not much in the way of big hits or physical play in this one, and I think that has less to do with the Leafs being unwilling, and more to do with the Red Wings doing their thing.
Finally towards the back-end of the second period MacWilliam throws a couple hits and the combination of Kadri, Raymond and Rielly gets a little energy going. Rielly stays deep and it nearly results in a Raymond wraparound goal.

#8: Leivo from Franson
On the very next shift, MacWilliam dishes to Franson who throws it at the net for a very nice Leivo tip. MacWilliam has looked very good so far tonight, and picking it up as time goes on.

#9: Liles from Colborne
If the rumors of these two being packaged together have any merit, this goal certainly doesn’t hurt.
The shift two previous to this goal, Liles had a shot on net, and it was the first time I’d heard his name all night – which was somewhat shocking to me because he was of course paired with Rielly, who seemed to be everywhere. Clearly his role tonight was to be cautious, fall back, and let Morgan do his thing. When given the chance offensively though, he wired his point shot into the top corner. I really believe this guy has more game than Carlyle is willing to acknowledge.

#10: Third Period
The Leafs came out in the third looking like they thought they already won the game. For the first time in the contest the Wings maintained some zone time, and not surprisingly, continued utilizing the points. A screened shot came down in front of the net onto the stick of a Red Wing who forced Reimer to make his best save of the night. That series of events seemed to shock the Leafs out of their apathy.

#11: Leivo Scores Again
Liles – looking more confident moving around the offensive zone – is able to keep the puck in a couple times and work it around with Rielly. Eventually he gets a shot off that is blocked and goes right onto the stick of Leivo, who cashes in for his second of the evening. Colborne draws the assist. He’s been in the right place at the right time tonight, and that counts for something.

#12: Burst of Momentum
After the goal the whole team seemed to come back to life for a bit. Kadri and Raymond were dancing around the zone, and trying to make something happen behind the net. There is some chemistry there, but it looks like Kadri needs to be the one with the puck on his stick. Still during this little burst of energy, MacWilliam makes a very nice offensive zone pinch and comes right down to the net, nearly scoring a tap-in goal to go up 4-0. Is it possible this kid has an offensive game that could be developed, too?

#13: It Never Fails
A failed opportunity at one end results in a goal at the other. Leivo gets a breakaway after working hard to break up the play developing at the point, but gets knocked off the puck and only managed to get a weak shot away. The play turns back the other way and you knew before Mitch Callahan even got close to Reimer that he was going to score – that’s just the law of hockey.

NOTE: I loved the way Leivo broke up the point efforts of the Wings, and you could tell that Kindl was surprised that someone was there to bother him. I really wish Carlyle would do have our guys do this occasionally rather than always immediately collapsing.

The Maple Leafs will finish the pre-season with a 5-2-1 record. It was a pretty strong effort by the young Leafs tonight. Detroit was kept pretty much in check, and their offense felt anemic. Good fore-checking forward lines and mobile puck-moving defenders combined for the kind of effort we hope our NHL players can regularly bring against NHL competition. No one was hurt, and it looks like Reimer solidified himself as the starting goaltender for Montreal on Tuesday.

Standout Prospects

  • Rielly: looking very impressive, but nothing really coming of it
  • D’Amigo: forechecking hard, creating scoring chances, diving to make plays
  • MacWilliam: smart, efficient plays, couple of good shots at the net, gets an apple, threw some hits
  • Leivo: Hard to say he wasn’t impressive with 2 goals, but there was definitely a little bit of right place right time with him. He actually got better after scoring, when all the confidence went to his legs
  • Percy: Just a very solid and reliable guy, nothing flashy, but also, nothing stupid

Standout Bubble Players

  • Bodie: Looking very good next to D’Amigo; by far the most noticeable he’s been
  • Smith: Obviously doing something right on that D’Amigo line
  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Quality post game report, Cam.  Agreed on MacW as well as the chemistry that is developing between Kadri and Ramond…very intrigued.  Liles (and to a lesser extent Colborne) showcasing themselves tonight….though I would not be surprised if teams (Calgary) are sniffing around Lievo with his stock rising tonight. 
    Bring on Montreal.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    TheCanucksnaphook 
    Does he teach math??

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Yea, it’s a weakness, for sure.

  • Zep2

    On Rielly, he brings a dimension or option to the offense that his team mates havent figured out.  
    Hes often the 4th forward , moments after hes made an outlet pass,  but isnt getting the puck back

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook 
    As long as it needs to be. Great job, Cam.

  • http://www.gregcaughill.com/ DarthBurke

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I’m intrigued that whoever plays with Kadri seems to get chemistry with him. He looks to develop into one of those rare players that make everyone around him better!

  • Optimustic

    Good Game in 10 Cameron19  Mostly agree with the first point.  The prospects looked hungry and must have been using their final chance to impress RC.  Can’t wait till Tuesday.  Go Leafs Go.

  • Zep2

    Bernier didnt separate himself from Reimer. i ts a tie, the incumbent should start in Mtl

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Zep2 
    He has been setting up great give and goes that he hasn’t been getting back. It’s a move he uses a lot in junior and no one is paying attention. I don’t know how many times it happens, but it feels like a dozen different plays where he’s setup a great give-and-go and hasn’t had someone that can find a seam to get it back to him where he’s in a great scoring spot.

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    Nice write up, very concise.

  • B_Leaf

    Hey Cam, Sounds like you’re having a hard time warming up to Leivo. I admit he could probably use time in the AHL, but I think he has the most upside. I am not saying this just cause he scored a couple tonight, I like his game and his positioning…interesting you mentioned that.

  • Zep2

    DeclanK Zep2 Yeah , its been going on all training camp.

  • Cameron19

    DeclanK Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook Thanks.

  • B_Leaf

    Reimer has had a great camp…tonight…the shoot out 15 or so deep…perfect record I think too.

  • B_Leaf

    -Keon- 
    His hits were hard tonight too

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    -Keon- 
    MacW has impressed in each game he’s played, imo.  First to be called up from the Marlies,

  • LeafsForLife

    Great job Cam! Very accurate analysis. Thank you for this.

  • Zep2

    -Keon- Plus he can play the game a little .

  • B_Leaf

    Zep2 -Keon- 
    MacWilliam will be a beast in the playoffs when the hitting intensifies.

  • mike_84

    Zep2 -Keon- He has a pretty good first pass. I like how he moves the puck. keeps it simple

  • Dan39

    Hate these emotionless/no-hitting/European-style games against the Wings. How many times do they play this season? Already seen too much of that kind of hockey. 
    Bring on the newly-tough Habs!

  • Dan39

    Standouts for me, aside from the obvious was MacWillian (looked great jumping into plays and taking the body) and Colborne (looked as soft as ever opting-out of taking the body).

  • http://www.gregcaughill.com/ DarthBurke

    B_Leaf Is Leivo the new Frattin? Would be nice to replace him internally.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    -Keon- 
    Yup…me too.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Great work Cam, thanks.  Heavy on the facts, lite on the editorializing.

  • Zep2

    Watching guys like Percy and MacWilliam , Nonis has to be a little less worried about the cap next year. They give him options on moving out higher priced guys

  • MaxwellHowe

    DarthBurke B_Leaf Might want to wish him more luck than that.  Frattin had his struggles and injuries.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Zep2 
    Who do you not see on our blue line starting next season (with exception of Fraser and/or Liles)??

  • Waiting4LSC

    Rielly takes Gunnarsson’ place. :)

  • B_Leaf

    DarthBurke B_Leaf 
    I think so…he has decent size and doesn’t mind contact. Also he has pretty good hands. I hated trading Frattin, but Leivo emerging quickly could help with that.

  • Dan39

    -Keon- Yeah, might be able to get a good price for him. If this board is any indication, offense is looked at way more than defense from defenseman and Gardiner is still seriously lacking in the latter.

  • wiski

    Waiting4LSC Ph9 😉

  • Waiting4LSC

    Wiski: you going for the ban hammer? :)

  • Cameron19

    wiski Waiting4LSC Don’t you feel dirty that you share an opinion with Healy…?

  • guest16

    With all the talk of Calgary possibly having interest in Liles, really the only way they would bring him in is if they dump Russell….They have Brodie who is already a top 4 if not the number 3 guy with the Flames, a developing offensive dynamic guy, amazing skater with an above average stick and head for the game, will have an A in the near future (2-3 years)…Wideman is signed for another three years after this year and is a solid first line pp option, great first pass guy…. and then they have their captain Gio who at times can be sketchy as a 2 way dman but overall a solid top four guy…They picked up Russell, as that complimentary guy on the cheap and has seemed to worked well “so far” with Wideman…What they’re really lacking is a bonafide shutdown guy to play with O’Brien so unless a move or two is made in Calgary I wouldn’t look to them as an option for Liles

  • theacs1966

    Cameron19 DeclanK TheCanucksnaphook Yep, good write up.  I did one too, but it took me way too long, just submitted it to DeclanK for future reference.

  • wiski

    Cameron19 wiski Waiting4LSC I missed his comment. lol

  • Dan39

    I thought it was interesting that Carlyle gets to pick the team and Nonis has a cap solution for any possible lineup. If that’s the case, that means he thinks/knows he can move Liles.

  • Dan39

    @guest16 Avalanche. I went to a game at the Pepsi centre last week – they have zero defense. Dallas scored like 5 horrible goals on them.

  • Waiting4LSC

    With Percy and McW looking strong, and Mr. MR am thinking Mr. Blacker (whom I like a lot) is going to be trade bait.

  • wiski

    Dan39 He was chewing on his Blackberry petty hard tonight.

  • Dan39

    -Keon- That doesn’t solve much, +925k in cap – he needs to actually move him in a trade to allow Carlyle to play Rielly, etc.

  • guest16

    -Keon- I wouldn’t say any team, he is still a solid top 4 on a weeeak team, decent top 6 on an average team….Just had a rough patch last year and hasn’t been able to recoup his game, then on-top of that his cap hit isn’t quality…..Avs or Marlies is my guess

  • Dan39

    -Keon- Avalanche. Seriously, I watched them play last week – they have no defense. Not that Liles is a great defensive solution but it would be a start for them…

  • Dan39

    -Keon- That’s what I’m hoping is the case anyway…

  • guest16

    Dan39 and you know going back “home” to Colorado would do wonders for Lile’s confidence…he would again be one of the go to guys on an exciting team in a familiar environment for him…Obviously if he had a choice where to play this year, Colorado would be one, if not the top choice he would choose

  • Tim Horton

    With a goal and assist today I believe Grabo has 8 points in 4 pre season games. Also he only played half of game 3.

  • B_Leaf

    I feel like I have a good grasp on our prospects and where they are at, who has value, etc. But I have to admit I don’t feel like I have the pulse on the team yet. Camp didn’t really show us that. All the individual parts look pretty good. Kadri, Kessel, and JVR stood out, and Raymond looks like good value. On D Franson and Fraser impressed but we already knew what we had there. Curious to see how we do on Tuesday.

  • Dan39

    DarthBurke B_Leaf He’s better than Frattin. I think Leivo in two years will put up nearly a ppg in the A.

  • B_Leaf

    Tim Horton 
    If he is healthy, Nonis made a huge mistake.