Nothing to see here. Just a boring Sunday night game in the middle of preseason.

Except for a line brawl featuring 212 penalty minutes, three game misconducts, and a goalie fight:

Brendan Shanahan, have fun with this one.

804170_origThe story of tonight’s Phil Kessel vs. John Scott skirmish, and the ensuing brawl, starts with the destruction of Corey Tropp by Jamie Devane a few minutes earlier. The two head coaches did not respond to this event the same way. Ron Rolston sent out John Scott, expecting more rough stuff to come. Randy Carlyle countered with Carter Ashton, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel in attempt to “diffuse the situation.”

The ensuing sequence was explosive. Scott verbally threatened Kessel before the puck dropped, which he has since claimed was said in a joking manner (note: This is BS. Scott dropped his gloves almost instantly). Kessel saw Scott step toward him off the draw and proceeded to go to work on Scott with his one-piece.

In the background, as all of the players on the ice converged, David Clarkson could be seen hopping over the bench to charge at Scott. Carter Ashton had already jumped Scott, toppled him to the ice, and was throwing bombs over the top of the scrum, where both Andrew MacWilliam and Tyler Bozak were also in the mix.

Brian Flynn skated after Kessel, and the two dropped the gloves. Kessel proceeded to bust him open in the fight. Pretty impressive stuff from a player who has thrown like 6 hits since being traded here in 2009.

We’ll have to see if Kessel’s stick work – the extra slashes – gets him in trouble, but this shouldn’t lead to a suspension that carries over into the regular season.

Clarkson, meanwhile, will receive a 10-game suspension, and from the sounds of it, preseason games do not count toward time served. There is no discretion involved with the rule against leaving the bench to engage in a fight. The Leafs prized acquisition will likely miss the month of October, which kind of makes it hard to laugh the whole thing off, as hilarious as it was (if you didn’t catch this on one of the replays, Kadri was seen laughing hysterically on the bench). It wasn’t the most egregious bench clearing stunt, but there isn’t any leeway with this rule.

As for Clarkson, I don’t doubt that Kessel and the rest of his teammates took notice of how this guy would go through over a wall for the team. Upon a few reviews of the replay, though, it didn’t seem necessary for Clarkson to hop the boards when Carter Ashton already had Scott down on the ice and the refs were already involved. Protecting Kessel from John Scott is one rare instance where getting suspended for 10 games is worth it, but it didn’t really play out that way, exactly.

If you’re into pointing fingers, the whole thing starts with Randy Carlyle misreading the temperature of the game after the Devane knockout of Tropp, which Carlyle himself admitted was a mistake. In hindsight, Bodie should have been out there lined up beside Scott on the faceoff. The whole ordeal as it played out was pretty epic, but it comes with a price.

Here was the rap sheet of third period penalties:

BUF B. McNabb Tripping – 2 min against N. Kadri
TOR J. van Riemsdyk Interference – Goalkeeper – 2 min against R. Miller
TOR J. Devane Fighting – 5 min against C. Tropp
BUF C. Tropp Fighting – 5 min against J. Devane
TOR A. MacWilliam Fighting – 5 min against M. Zigomanis
TOR T. Bozak Fighting – 5 min against C. Ruhwedel
TOR J. Bernier Fighting – 5 min against R. Miller
TOR T. Brennan Fighting – 5 min against D. Bagnall
BUF B. Flynn Fighting – 5 min against C. Ashton
BUF M. Zigomanis Fighting – 5 min against A. MacWilliam
BUF C. Ruhwedel Fighting – 5 min against T. Bozak
BUF J. Scott Fighting – 5 min against D. Clarkson
BUF R. Miller Fighting – 5 min against J. Bernier
TOR D. Clarkson Leaving player’s/penalty bench – 10 min
BUF D. Bagnall Fighting – 5 min against T. Brennan
TOR C. Ashton Fighting – 5 min against D. Bagnall
BUF J. Scott served by M. Grigorenko Instigator – 2 min against P. Kessel
TOR J. Bernier Goalie leave crease – 2 min against R. Miller
BUF R. Miller Goalie leave crease – 2 min
BUF J. Scott Misconduct – 10 min
BUF J. Scott Game misconduct – 10 min against P. Kessel
TOR C. Ashton Misconduct – 10 min
TOR T. Bozak Misconduct – 10 min
TOR T. Brennan Misconduct – 10 min
TOR A. MacWilliam Misconduct – 10 min
TOR J. Bernier Game misconduct – 10 min
BUF D. Bagnall Misconduct – 10 min
BUF M. Zigomanis Misconduct – 10 min
BUF B. Flynn Misconduct – 10 min
BUF R. Miller Game misconduct – 10 min against J. Bernier
BUF C. Ruhwedel Misconduct – 10 min
TOR P. Kessel Match penalty – 10 min against J. Scott
TOR J. Liles Roughing – 2 min against C. Hodgson
BUF J. Armia Hooking – 2 min against N. Kadri
TOR J. van Riemsdyk Roughing – 2 min against B. McNabb
BUF B. McNabb Roughing – 2 min against J. van Riemsdyk

We didn’t have time to turn these notes into actual sentences, but here is a play by play of the game – some sort of sideshow to the main event, apparently – that took place tonight. The Leafs won, by the way. They’re now 4-0-1 in preseason.

1st Period

– 1st shift: Lupul/Kadri/Clarkson get some good zone time.
– 2nd shift: Ashton plays a shift with Kessel/Bozak.
LEAFS GOAL – 3rd shift looks like a PP for Leafs, which they score on. Kessel from Bozak.
– Lupul-Kadri-Clarkson are dominating with zone time and creating opportunities.
– Great backcheck from Kadri. Last man back, he breaks up a scoring chance.
– Ashton gets another shift with Bozak/Kessel (and Liles + Gardiner). Rielly is swapped out for Liles after D faceoff win. Rielly and Gardiner played a shift together!
– Leivo-Colborne-JVR with a dangerous 2-on-1 that was started with a nice chip play by Rielly off the boards.
– JVR looks like he’s added a step. Great game breaking speed on that rush.
– More zone time for Leafs. Great transition game from the Leafs early. Really stuffing any dump-n-chase game from Buffalo.
– Nice zone entry by Rielly. Really pushes the play north effectively with smart, safe plays of the boards/glass and/or rushing the puck. Not a lot of zone time for the Sabres young team, so far.
– JVR/Colborne/Leivo again. Neutral zone faceoff. After troubles gaining control of the puck, Colborne got stripped on a turnover trying to carry the puck out of the zone.
– MacWilliam playing his typical aggressive style. Also shields the puck well.
– Another odd-man rush. 3-on-1 lead by Gardiner pushing the points.
LEAFS GOAL – Gardiner picks up a turnover and leads the rush down the ice. Waits until below the faceoff circle, and with Miller fully committed, dishes to Smith for a tap in. Nice play by Devane to leg-drag over the line to stay onside on the 3-on-1.

– Next shift is a dominating one for Lupul-Kadri-Clarkson. Faceoff win, followed by a scoring chance/shot.
– Bit of a breakdown for the Leafs, but Bernier comes up with a nice save.
– 3 minutes left in the period, Colborne presses the points, forces a turnover and gets a breakaway. Gets caught slightly and tangled up a bit before getting off a weak shot, that causes a rebound off Miller. No trailing forward to bury and it’s gobbled up.
– Nice rush with Rielly and Lupul. Good scoring chance created.
– I’d hate to count scoring chances or odd man rushes. Buffalo looking like an AHL team right now and Kadri is heads and shoulders above them.
– Colborne line still trying to learn a cycle and it hasn’t happened yet, as they are out of sequence. Not for a lack of effort, but it’s causing turnovers and that line is ineffective early.
BUFFALO GOAL – Zadorov  catches the Leafs napping on a change and a 3-on-2 rush and he roofs it top cheese on Bernier.
– END OF 1st PERIOD – 14-9 shots for the Leafs.

01:35 TOR P. Kessel Tip-in – ASST: T. Bozak , C. Ashton 1 – 0 TOR
10:01 TOR T. Smith Wrist shot – ASST: J. Gardiner , T. Brennan 2 – 0 TOR
19:33 BUF N. Zadorov Wrist shot – ASST: NONE 2 – 1 TOR

2nd Period

– Bernier bailed the team out for the first 10 minutes.
– Pretty.. umm.. loose defensive play by the Leafs allowed a 2 on 1 and then a 3 on 1 in succession. Bernier turned both chances aside with impressive post-to-post pad saves.
– Big glove save by Bernier after more loose defensive coverage by the Leafs. Preserving the lead on his own in the 2nd period.
– Bernier stacks the pads, great save with 4 Leafs collapsed below the hashmarks scrambling.
– Good cycle by Colborne, Leivo and JVR. Gardiner rings iron from the point.
– Clarkson is chirping John Scott (WHYIOUTTA), safely keeping his distance.
– Liles makes an appearance with a nice airmail clearance/pass.
LEAFS GOAL – Sabres kind of stopped skating at the end of a long shift and Kessel weaved his way into the slot and put one through Ryan Miller.
LEAFS GOAL – Milling around by the opposition blue line after a change hoping for a quick transition, JvR takes a stretch pass and goes on a breakway. Miller forces JvR around the back of the net, but JvR buys time and finds Leivo on the backdoor to make it 4-1.
– For a preseason game, Kadri’s defensive effort was excellent in this period.

15:49 TOR P. Kessel ASST: C. Ashton , J. Bernier 3 – 1 TOR
16:52 TOR J. Leivo ASST: J. van Riemsdyk , J. Colborne 4 – 1 TOR

3rd Period

– Kadri makes a nice cut from the half-boards and gets tripped up; draws penalty.
–  Small break from Foligno and a huge poke-check from Bernier. Everyone calm down (present company included)—it’s preseason.
– Pace of play has gotten quite slow and decidedly pre-season.
– Kadri has his bell rung behind the net by John Scott, uncontested.
– JVR gets pushed into the goalie and gets a goaltender interference call.
–  BUFFALO GOAL – On the PP, Jamie McBain scores on the power play with a lot of traffic in front on Bernier.
BUFFAL GOAL – Toronto gets caught napping again, with a poor effort level and a lot of lazy plays leading up to a Cody Hodgson goal through traffic (again). Looks like a tip (no video replay in pre-season).
– Devane drops the gloves with Tropp after Tropp picks a fight with him. Devane catches him on the chin with a huge right, which stuns him, and then a left. Tropp is down and out; once up, he’s very wobbly.
– Rolston puts John Scott on the ice next shift. Huge brawl erupts. Scott jumps Kessel and then this happens
– Who cares about the rest of the game.

08:31 BUF PPG – J. McBain Slapshot – ASST: J. Armia , M. Grigorenko, 4 – 2 TOR
09:57 BUF – C. Tropp Deflected shot – ASST: J. McBain , M. Foligno, 4 – 3 TOR
14:46 TOR – SHG – J. Gardiner Wrist shot – ASST: NONE, 5 – 3 TOR

With Clarkson out for the start of the season, I expect Carter Ashton has won himself a spot for opening night. He probably deserved one anyway, but he acquitted himself well on a line with Kessel and Bozak tonight, and there’s now a hole on the wing.

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