While it’s still just the preseason, the Leafs were getting their first taste of the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit. It’s ironically named, because just like the pizza, the Red Wings are bland, boring, and make you want to throw up when all is said and done. Anyway, here’s game seven of eight for the Leafs in the preseason.
The Leafs got off to a solid start, scoring 3:19 into the period. This came seven seconds into a power play from a Gustav Nyquist hooking call, after Mitch Marner gave Jimmy Howard the ol’ knuckle puck, making it 1-0.
it's knucklepuck time featuring Mitch Marner pic.twitter.com/6r1yncecWS
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) September 29, 2017
After that, the Leafs didn’t really show up. Gustav Nyquist scored at the 13:09 mark of the first period after a smart pass from Henrik Zetterberg, and it was well earned, as the Red Wings out shot the Leafs 15-3 in the period, and saw the even strength shot attempts also in their favour at 16-7. It was a rough start for the Buds.
But, the Buds showed up in full force during the second period, outshooting the Wings 12-6 and in 5v5 shot attempts 14-9. It started early, as Jake Gardiner did a great job recovering the puck, and made an excellent pass to William Nylander up front, who tipped it into the net to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. Everything was going great.
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) September 30, 2017
Oh, Luke Glendening scored with 31 seconds left, but that’s not really all that relevant now, is it.
The Leafs continued their trend of young players scoring early in the period, as Nylander fed the puck to a wide open Auston Matthews, and he jammed in his own rebound to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 30, 2017
The Nylander-Matthews combo almost connected again several minutes later, with an amazing passing play, but Jimmy Howard robbed Nylander on the one-timer. The Wings made killing time very easy, as they took three penalties in the middle of the period, so it wasn’t hard to wind down the clock when they were on the man advantage in the other end. The Leafs made it interesting in the final minutes, taking a penalty with 1:09 left, so the Red Wings would be on the power play to close out the game. Except they took a penalty 14 seconds later and made it 4 on 4 for the rest of the game. Uncle Leo got the empty netter, and the Leafs would win the game 4-2, their 5th in a row. They would finish out shooting the Wings 27-23, and edging them out in possession with the 5v5 shot attempts at 31-28.
There really isn’t much to elaborate on this game. Aside from the 4th line centre (maybe), and the third pair, this is pretty much the lineup for the Leafs. Likewise, they were up against what will probably the lineup for the Wings. The Leafs are good. The Red Wings are bad. The Leafs won. The Red Wings lost. No surprises here.
I was a tad bit worried about the start, but even then, it’s preseason, it wasn’t worth losing sleep about it. Besides, they were the strong in the final two periods, and ended up with a 56.67% 5v5 Score Adjusted Corsi. They’re fine.
The third pair of Rosen and Borgman weren’t amazing, as they finished the night getting outshot 8-14 and 11-15. They were probably the two players that really needed to play well, and they were mediocre. Not saying that one game should decide if they make the team, but knowing Babcock, it might.
On a brighter note, both Nylander and Matthews look like they’re going to destroy worlds together this season. Also, Rielly and Hainsey had a good game together, so it should make Leafs fans feel much better going into the preseason.
My three stars of the night are:
1. William Nylander
2. Auston Matthews
3. Ron Hainsey
It was a solid outing for the Leafs, and they’re clearly looking ready for the start of the season.
There’s only one game left in the preseason (thank God) between the Toronto Marlies and the Grand Rapids Griff- er, I mean, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. You can catch the game on Sportsnet or NHL Network at 7pm.