Coughing up the lead late two games in a row is obviously a bit disconcerting considering the history of this team in that respect. But this pre-season is about shaking lingering habits from the former era and, as PPP points out, this is the perfect opportunity for Ron Wilson to kick some of these tendencies. That’s not to mention the fact that tonight’s collapse was largely the result of some rookie mistakes on the part of John Mitchell and Justin Pogge, who played great games otherwise.
A momentum swing in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins can be largely attributed to a couple of in-game changes orchestrated by bench-boss Ron Wilson.
The starting first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky proved ineffectual in the first frame and rookie Nik Kulemin wasn’t clicking with line-mates Nik Hagman and Alex Steen. The team failed to generate anything in the way of offense until late in the third, when Wilson’s ad hoc lines began to fire, mounting a near come-back with two goals in quick succession.
It certainly seemed like a new era tonight in the ACC as a much more motivated and industrious Leafs team took to the ice and out-played the Buffalo Sabres in a 7-4 win for the new-look Blue and White.
Neither team could honestly say they put forth the best they could offer, but that’s the nature of these early pre-season games. It still can be said that there were some promising signs from a Leafs stand-point.
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*Sunday Morning Update: Nothing ground-breaking here, but Fletcher told me via e-mail this morning that there were no new developments in Friday’s meeting between himself, Mats Sundin and agent J.P Barry. “Mats is going to take his time.” It’s expected that Fletcher clarified his position by reaffirming that Sundin was welcome back, with a reported $7 million, 1 year deal still on the table. Alex Tran will be checking in with his first blog sometime today.