For the most part, this Team Blue vs. Team White intrasquad game had a pretty good pace to it, although not surprisingly, it got progressively sloppier as the game entered its later stages.

Team White won both the regulation game — by a score of 6-3 — and the OT period thanks to a 3-on-3 goal from Ilya Mikheyev. The two squads split the two shootout contests, with Mikko Lehtonen winning the first one for Team White and Morgan Rielly clinching the second one for Team Blue.

William Nylander led the way with a pair of goals for Team White, while Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews countered with a goal apiece in a losing effort for Team Blue.

The Goals


Take this scrimmage exercise for what it is, but a few quick notes below:

Alex Barabanov displayed a good motor throughout the game for Team Blue, pushing the pace and persistently hounding puck carriers. He also broke through for a breakaway that he couldn’t convert. That line — with Barabanov next to two heavier-footed players in Spezza and Simmonds — will need someone to help push the pace, so that’s an encouraging sign, at least as far as these scrimmages go. Joey Anderson also looked like he could offer this type of presence.

– After the talk about Mitch Marner playing the middle of the power play in between Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton, it was Thornton in the bumper role in between Marner and Matthews in this game. Those concerned about too many playmakers and not enough shooters on that unit weren’t assuaged by this sequence:

Jokes aside, Marner let a number of shots off on the first power-play opportunity for Team Blue, a few of which missed the net. It was hard to tell if his shot had a little more zip on it than last year — maybe it just seemed that way with a few loud bangs off the end wall — but for those asking Marner to shoot more this season (including the Leafs coaching staff), he did seem more trigger happy in the scrimmage.

Going to need to see more from this unit before they’ll have me convinced of moving both Tavares and Nylander off of the top group.

– At 5v5, the top line had some good sequences. Thornton’s intelligence, strength, and presence down low — extending plays on the cycle, getting to the front of the net — was visible at different points throughout the game while Matthews and Marner did their thing. Jumbo kept up well for the most part. Again, we’ll wait until the real stuff starts before making any real judgments.

– While Marner and Matthews were right there, too, William Nylander might have been the Leafs’ best forward — skating really well, generating turnovers, turning them into offense — and he potted two goals of his own, one on a wicked one-timer on the power play off of a Mikko Lehtonen feed.

– Speaking of Mikko Lehtonen, it wasn’t a perfect game in all areas of the ice by any means, but his prowess offensively shone through clearly in this scrimmage, as he was very involved at the offensive end and eager to get pucks to the net, including one for Nylander’s first goal on a tip in front. We should see the coaching staff get Lehtonen involved offensively with softer matchups and some offensive-zone deployment off of the bottom pairing in the early going of the regular season, in addition to PP2 time, as he adjusts to the league.

– No surprise, Ramus Sandin looks ready for regular NHL minutes. We saw some nice instances of his evasiveness against the forecheck, and a beautiful reverse check along the endboards against a big lad in Justin Brazeau. The Leafs will have a couple of defensemen worthy of an NHL top six who won’t be playing on Wednesday night by virtue of the numbers game on the blue line. Lehtonen won’t have a ton of runway to acclimate with the quality of the competition around him.

Jack Campbell put on the best goaltending performance of the three goalies, particularly in the first period, where he was really sharp and turned aside a number of good scoring chances and second opportunities for Team Blue.

– The coaching staff has put an emphasis on shootout practice knowing the team’s weakness in this area last season and the importance of the extra points in the all-divisional schedule. But it wasn’t exactly a sterling display of shooting prowess tonight — while the goalies were sharp, there were lots of bobbles, failed backhand deke attempts, and not enough of picking a spot and letting it rip. The two converted attempts out of the 13 were two good low, hard shots from a pair of defensemen in Lehtonen and Rielly:

1st shootout:

Tavares – missed on a backhand deke
Matthews – stopped on a five-hole attempt
Vesey – stopped on a backhand attempt, glove save by Andersen
Marner – stopped on a low glove side attempt (Campbell)
Nylander – missed, lost control after initially fooling Andersen
Spezza – missed, lost control of the puck early
Lehtonen – scored on a shot low blocker side past Andersen
Barabanov – stopped on his backhand

2nd shootout:

Mikheyev – missed on a backhand attempt
Spezza – missed wide right
Robertson – missed, lost handle going to backhand
Hyman – stopped on blocker side shot
Matthews – stopped on a five-hole attempt

– Harsh words from Sheldon Keefe on Pierre Engvall, especially after a scrimmage: “I expect him to be better, to be honest.” While he scored late on a good play in the neutral zone by Zach Hyman to send him in alone, Engvall turned a puck back into the defensive zone and forked it over to Marner for the Matthews goal in the third period. It doesn’t seem as though the coaching staff would have a ton of confidence in going ahead with this line if Alex Kerfoot can’t go on Wednesday — which may necessitate a rethink of the lines, depending on Kerfoot’s status. Travis Boyd, who had a couple of nice moments in this game, is another option for center cover here, but the depth down the middle past the big two remains a question mark and also ties into the question of where Thornton is best used.

– This Rourke Chartier fellow is a good-looking piece for the Marlies; his pace and puck pursuit definitely stood out (note: he appeared in 13 games for the Sharks last season).

– Quiet game from Robertson overall, but it ended with a bang: