Leafs Postgame: Toronto Loses In Final Preseason Tune-Up

It may have been against a very young and inexperienced Detroit Red Wings group, but credit where credit is due – this may have been one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best showings this preseason, specifically on the defensive side of the puck. Still, there’s a lot to learn (and just as many cuts to come) before Wednesday’s season opener.

The Rundown

The Leafs actually controlled the majority of the first and second periods tonight, but would surrender the first goal at about the game’s halfway point. Inexplicably, both Morgan Rielly and Roman Polak would let Andreas Athanasiou skate right down the middle of them on an innocent looking 1-on-2, allowing for a prime breakaway opportunity that Athanasiou would capitalize on. It was just about as ugly a goal as you can concede, with both defencemen literally watching their opponent skate by them.

To make matters worse, Toronto would again take back control of the game, and again concede a goal. On the penalty kill in the final minute of the second period, three Leafs would turn over the puck along the boards in the neutral zone and give up a three-on-one opportunity in which Hunwick had little chance of breaking up. Athanasiou would again be a factor, dishing the puck across the ice to supposed-to-be-Leaf Anthony Mantha, who lifted the puck up under the crossbar and over the stacked pads of Jonathan Bernier.

Following a second intermission in which I imagine Mike Babcock shared some choice words with his team, the Leafs would finally get on the board just 22 seconds into the third period when James van Riemsdyk would dish the puck out from behind the net and Brad Boyes would take a couple swats before burying it behind Petr Mrazek. 

Despite pulling within one, though, and despite the Leafs outshooting the Red Wings 29-15, that’s how the game would end. Toronto just wouldn’t be able to beat Mrazek in a game they probably should have won.

Blue Warrior

I’m going to give it to Scott Harrington, who picked up the second assist on the Boyes goal. You might not have noticed Harrington much tonight, but that’s exactly how Coach Babcock likes it. A quiet but effective blueliner, the 22-year old just might have been impressive enough this preseason to crack the opening night roster. 

Speaking of…

Opening Night

The exhibition games are mercifully over, and the regular season gets under way this Wednesday when the Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto. Tune into Sportsnet at 7:00 pm and enjoy some real, meaningful hockey.

  • Gary Empey

    This team looks alot like the one from last yr. Same results anyway. Lots of changes, but not enough. Still lots of deadwood to clear out. Oh, Lord, the games on Wed count, yikes! Should we panic?…..I’m gonna panic.

    • Gary Empey

      To me the team looks a lot different from last year. The result was the same though. Defensively there is a ton of improvement. Their offensive output is a large concern. Only three goals scored in the last four games. Hopefully that will improve when their defensive game becomes second nature to them. Still they are very short of real snipers. It shall be very interesting to see Babcock’s final lineup and compare it to TLN’s brain trust.

  • Gary Empey

    This was a game of Karma catching up to a team that used to get out played and win and this time they outplayed the opponet and lost. They lost not for a lack of effort they’re just unable to score. They seem to be scrambling in front of the net and not getting any clear shots off. But a good game compared to last year’s effort. Everything is trending in the right direction the results will come they just need a little more time to get comfortable with the system and some goals to help with the confidence. Once the roster is set it should help calm the nerves for the players.
    Go leafs go!

  • Gary Empey

    As long as leaf fans simply accept that is a lost year in the wilderness and on most nights you will be cured of your insomia you will not have your knickers tied into a knot. Bottom line is that a lot of debris has to be thrown over board on the good ship maple leaf. That means a long, long season as you watch the latest sensation sweeping the nation the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs going for the world series and an improving Raptor team that will go over the 50 win mark this year.

    The only major achievement that an intelligent Raptor fan no that is not an oxymoron should care about for this season is getting the highest draft pick possible for June 2016.

    • Gary Empey

      Re- Bottom line is that a lot of debris has to be thrown over board on the good ship maple leaf.

      In the past the tendency has been to throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s hope sharper minds prevail this time.