Ed. Note: Meet Daniel Santos, the newest member of the MLHS blogging team. Daniel serves as the Editorial Coordinator for The Score, and formerly blogged about the Maple Leafs for The Score’s “Six Pack.” Welcome, Dan.
Well, the comeback kids couldn’t do it tonight. Unlike last night against Pittsburgh, The Leafs couldn’t overcome a slow start tonight and fell 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.
I know it’s just pre-season, but the slow starts are starting to concern me a little bit. It seems that the Leafs need to be down a pair of goals to finally get in the game. I hope this isn’t a trend that’s carrying over from last year’s team. They need to show more urgency as soon as the puck drops. But since it is the pre-season, we’ll turn the other way…for now.
Here are some of my thoughts on some of the individual performances tonight:
– Garnet Exelby brings the ‘pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence’ that Brian Burke desires, but he didn’t have a strong game tonight. He made numerous mistakes, including a bad pinch that eventually resulted in a goal, he coughed the puck up in his own end a couple of times and just plain fell over on a Sabres rush in the third. However, I haven’t seen that much of him yet, so I’ll let him off the hook.
– Tyler Bozak didn’t look as good without his usual ‘frat line’. He made one nice pass to Grabovski on the tail end of a power-play, but didn’t create much offence otherwise. Ron Wilson re-united him with Stalberg and Hanson in the third, but they weren’t able to generate much in their few shifts together. However, Bozak did make a great defensive play in front of the Leafs’ empty net.
– Jiri Tlusty got a nice little break on his penalty-shot goal. Hopefully, he can build on it as he’s running out of time to make an impression on the coaching staff, especially since he can be sent to the Marlies without clearing waivers.
– I thought John Mitchell had his best game of the pre-season even before his third-period goal. He had good jump and was much more noticeable tonight than in the other pre-season games I’ve seen. His roster spot is all but secure.
– Joey MacDonald looked solid tonight. He kept the Leafs in the game after going down 2-0. I’m confident that he’ll be good insurance behind Vesa and the Monster.
All in all, not a bad effort against a Sabres lineup missing only a couple of key players. Up next for the Buds, a home-and-home starting Friday in Detroit.