Well, we’re one game closer to the regular season.
This was exactly what you would expect from the first game of preseason in terms of the competitive intensity and the number of successfully-completed plays (not much in the way of either). The Leafs controlled significant portions of the game and ultimately were out-goaltended in a sloppy, low-scoring affair to kick off preseason out in St. John’s.
The Senators led for much of the game after a weak opening goal by Maxime Lajoie snuck through Frederik Andersen following a giveaway up the wall by Jason Spezza in the first period.
Kasperi Kapanen scored the lone Leaf goal after Mitch Marner took over for a shift in the offensive zone and set up Kapanen in the slot for the 1-1 tally early in the third period.
Marner then gave it back six minutes later with a giveaway through the middle of his own zone from behind the goal line that led to Kasimir Kaskisuo getting caught off guard by Tristan Scherwey (who is a real person) for the Senators’ game winner.
That’s all this game really deserves in the way of a recap. Shots finished 24-19 in favour of the Leafs.
Some quick notes:
– Jordan Schmaltz stood out positively in his preseason Leafs debut. He played with a lot of urgency to his game — got back on pucks quickly, broke pucks out quickly — looked poised in possession, and moved the pill well throughout. It’s definitely too early to be making these kinds of statements, but he certainly outshone Justin Holl in this one.
– Frederik Gauthier was among the best Leaf forwards. As is tradition, he left with nothing to show for it offensively. The ice was consistently tilting the right way with him on the ice; he was gathering speed through the neutral zone, extending plays on the cycle, was all around the net for tips and rebounds, and could’ve easily scored a couple in this game. Goat’s limitations in finishing plays is always going to be his downfall, but a major credit to him for coming out and looking hungry/prepared for the challenge with his 4C job from last season very much in peril. He skated really well throughout and — mandatory mention — was 6’5 every shift.
– Egor Korshkov skated on a line wth Goat, and you can see the flashes of potential there. There’s quite a bit of skill to go along with the big frame, but he really fades in and out of games. Curious to see where he’s at after a full season with the Marlies.
– Obviously a nothing tune-up game for Tyson Barrie (reflected in his effort on the Senators’ empty-netter), but it’s going to be enjoyable to watch him each night as the games pick up. He’s a silky-smooth operator breaking out with the puck on his stick as well as manning the offensive blue line, and he’s highly aggressive pinching down the walls knowing he can recover so well with his feet. There was one really nice shift in particular where Muzzin and Barrie hemmed the Sens in for a minute-plus along with the Spezza line, leading to a power play for the Leafs late in the first period.
– We knew this from the end of last year, but Trevor Moore is going to be a useful player this season; you can throw him on either wing on whatever line and you know what you’re going to get from him — boundless energy, consistent second and third efforts, lots of puck pressure all over the ice.
– Mason Marchment’s gumption for going to the net and getting on the body is a refreshing sight and it definitely leaps off the page on this Leafs team. He also covers ice deceptively well. The biggest area for improvement for him might be adding some strength/bulk and more stability in his lower half. He made some moves to protect the puck and take it wide only to get thrown off balance a number of times in this game.
– In Dallas, Jason Spezza was often tasked with breaking the zone on the power play for his unit; he could take up the role for the second unit in Toronto, but it might depend whether William Nylander is a part of that group. Given the chance to gain a head of speed, Spezza’s hands are obviously his best asset, and it’s one area where he looked good in this game. Remains to be seen if he can penalty kill; the one time he played a notable role there was in 2010-11 with the Senators (1:52 per game), and to a lesser extent in 2013-14 (47 seconds/game). Otherwise, he hasn’t done it throughout his career.
Mike Babcock Post Game: Senators 3 vs. Leafs 1
On the team’s performance:
I thought they played harder in the first than us. I thought we got it going pretty good in the second and then took a couple penalties. I thought we really had it going in the third. We made a couple of mistakes and it was in our net. Obviously, we’ve got to play a lot better, but for me, a big part of it was just watching guys play. You just put them out there and you watch them play.
We’re going to know them pretty good by the end of his week. I think that is the most important thing. There were lots of things in our team game I didn’t like, so we are going to have to work on that, and that’s what we’ll do.
On standout players:
I liked Goat. I thought Goat was strong. He drove play. He was good without it and good with it. I thought he was a factor for us for sure.
On Kapanen’s game on the left side of the Tavares line:
I’ll watch these guys over [time]. The veteran guys aren’t quite the same thing, if that makes any sense. Obviously, he is a real good player for us. He normally plays in a different type of role, but that line had the puck a lot.
On Jason Spezza’s role:
I am going to figure it out, right? I tried lots of spots there. He is trying to figure out if he is interested and we are doing the same.
We are going to have him penalty killing and taking faceoffs and playing on your fourth line, t’s not what you’re used to. It’s a totally different thing. We are just going to keep plugging away and see where it goes.
On the big bodies of Korshkov, Engvall and Marchment:
I thought big Korshkov has real good hands and he’s a big, big body. We’d love for one of these guys to be NHL ready. We’d absolutely love that. Just because we’d love that doesn’t mean that is going to happen. We’re just going to watch them. They’ve got a couple of weeks here to show.
On the power play:
It didn’t score any goals and we needed one. We had some looks and stuff like that, but I am not very concerned about our power play. We will get our groups together. The rest of the group is on the other team and we don’t have them combined. I am not as concerned about that.
If you look at our game, we weren’t very good without it at times and they used the speed like we do to flip it and get us in trouble. They had us in trouble at times, so we’ve got to fix that.