I won’t lie. This wasn’t the best of preseason games for this group. The young and willing Detroit team showed more opportunism when it came to their scoring chances and came out with a deserved win.
This game, perhaps more than any other in preseason, showed there is still a lot of work to be done heading into the regular season.Â It isnâ€™t all bad. Yes, one can argue that this wasnâ€™t exactly the A+ Detroit team (and it wasnâ€™t, by any means) but there were a lot of hungry players fighting for spots out there. Secondly, I thought the Leafs dominated much of the play at times and just couldnâ€™t put the Wings to bed when they really should have.
For me, the most important bit of news came after the game. Mikhail Grabovski, whoâ€™s really turning out to be our best player, hurt his ankle during a shift after taking a puck to his foot. I and Leafs Nation members everywhere weâ€™re saying â€œHere we go again.â€ After the MacArthur suspension, injuries to Connolly, Kadri and Bozak, this was the last thing we wanted to see. Fortunately, it doesnâ€™t look to be all that serious:
“I believe so (the Leafs dodging a serious injury to Mikhail Grabovski who left after only eight shifts). Actually it was a pass on the first shift he was out there in the game. (The puck) caught him I think in the instep. It was sore and after we scored the power-play goal he said it was really hurting him. So they went in, did an X-ray, didn’t show anything. He put his skate back on but he said it was still sore.”
Once again, there was some major improvement on our powerplay, not so much the Liles goal but the way the team looked with a man advantage with Gardiner and Liles managing the powerplay. Sadly, our PK looked abysmal against a Red Wing powerplay that probably wonâ€™t see the light of day during the regular season.
Gardiner had trouble taking his man and clearing him from the crease area, while Mike Komisarek once again looked like the Mike Komisarek we want to see less of. Him failing to clear the zone led directly to one of the Detroit goals and the Red Wing players constantly found a way to get past him along the boards. As any young defenseman, Jake Gardiner still has a lot to learn about playing defense at the NHL level and these things (missed coverage, mistakes) will undoubtedly happen early in his career, but he has to be paired with a player whoâ€™s more defensively capable than Komisarek is right now.
Once again, the Frattin in the USSR line (somebody is reading the MLHS) was our best line of the night, and the team didnâ€™t seem to have that extra step from the moment Grabo went down. Lombardi played a really solid game, more so than expected and showed off his defensive capabilities right off the bat.
â€œI just wanted to go out there and try not to make any mistakes. It was obviously nice to get that off my shoulders. I didn’t feel amazing, but it was good I was playing in a lot of different situations. It’s going to get better, my conditioning’s going to get better. That’s nice to get that one done.â€
As always Mike Zigomanis was a beast in the faceoff circle. He also put himself in the mix for that fourth line center spot. Faceoffs are a very underrated and important part of winning hockey games. Thatâ€™s why I always thought Zigoman was an option that was often overlooked.
I also thought Colby Armstrong played a very good game, even if he took some questionable penalties. James Reimer didnâ€™t exactly look like the James Reimer of last season and I must say, as far as preseason goes, I do think that Jonas Gustavsson outplayed him for the most part and certainly put himself into a better position with the coaching staff with the effort and progress shown in this period of preparation.