The Toronto Maple Leafs collected a pair of preseason split squad wins against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Here’s a couple of takeaways from both games.
There was no special introduction for Mike Babcock on Monday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs took to the ice for their first preseason game. After all, it was just a split squad preseason game that had a modest attendance of 16,734 people.
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While the Leafs’ faithful will have to wait before they serenade Babcock with cheers, the team found their way into the win column, not once, but twice on Monday, winning both at home and on the road against Ottawa.
Much like the Leafs’ rookie tournament game, it’s important that these early preseason games are not given too much weight when it comes to evaluating players or team systems. Albeit the results were positive, it’s just two preseason split squad games.
With that being said, I won’t comment too much on game/team play, as the roster is yet to actually play a full game together. Instead, I’ll take a look at some player takeaways from Monday’s action.
Home Game: Maple Leafs 4, Senators 1
– Connor Brown made the most of his opportunity playing alongside James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak. Brown was great with the puck and made some crisp passes to both JVR and Bozak. Although the trio struggled a bit in their own end, they did generate a couple of scoring chances.
– P.A. Parenteau tallied a pair of power play goals that were taken from a pretty similar spot on the ice. Lining up on the half wall of the power play, Parenteau scored his first goal on a great feed from Morgan Rielly, and his second goal on a nice pass from William Nylander.
Sep 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly (44) carries the puck against the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Ottawa 4-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
– Speaking of Morgan Rielly, the pairing of him and Jake Gardiner looked good together. The smooth skating youngsters moved the puck and led the team in time on ice, as Rielly racked 24:16 of ice time, while Gardiner saw 22:56 of ice time. Both players also handled the majority of the team’s power play duties.
– Bernier was Bernier. Aside from a great goal by Mike Hoffman, Bernier looked sharp, saving 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
– William Nylander looked good on the power play and boasted a 5v5 CF% of 75%. When he did have the puck, his immense talent was on full display.
Although he probably won’t crack the regular season roster, it’s hard not to get excited when you see the 19-year-old Swede make plays like that.
Here’s a couple other things to make of note from this game:
– Babcock rolled out four forwards on the Leafs power play. Take that for what it’s worth.
– When exiting their own zone, the Leafs actually looked relatively efficient, and not like the typical disorganized breakout we became accustomed too last season. Again, though, it’s only a preseason split squad game.
– Lupe’s Troops has been rebranded to Leafs Troops, in an attempt to create a more team oriented campaign, as opposed to an individual one.
Road Game: Maple Leafs 4, Senators 3 (OT)
Sep 21, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) makes a save in front of Ottawa Senators right wing Bobby Ryan (6) in the second period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
– James Reimer had an up-and-down night. The first goal he didn’t really stand a chance. The second goal, however, was a soft one that he should have had. Reimer was screened on the third goal, which was a blast from the point by Erik Karlsson. It wasn’t a terrible goal by any means, but if he wasn’t so deep in his crease, he might have had a chance to save it. Overall, he played okay for his first preseason game.
– The line of Dmytro Timashov, Peter Holland and Brad Boyes looked good. At only 18 years old, Timashov looked very comfortable in both even strength and power play situations, as he racked up a pair of assists.
– Joffrey Lupul had a strong night, netting two goals and creating a number of chances. When healthy, this is the kind of play Leafs’ fan expect from Lupul. But as we’ve all seen before, injuries can quickly derail the 31-year-old forward. But while he’s on the ice, let’s hope Lupul can become a consistent scoring threat for the Leafs.
– Seeing a team-high 22:56 of ice time, T.J. Brennan posted a goal and an assist. There was ups and downs to Brennan’s game on Monday night, but for the most part, he played well. His size and strength remains a question mark, but for his first game he looked alright out there.
– Nazem Kadri also looked good. Playing alongside Joffrey Lupul and Shawn Matthias, Kardi very efficiently passed the puck. All together, the Kadri/Matthias/Lupul line compiled nine shots through two periods.
– Scott Harrington made sound decisions with the puck and was pretty physical out there. He saw 18:18 of total ice time and also worked in on the Leafs penalty kill unit.
– Curtis Glencross didn’t get any power play time, but was effective in even strength situations. He did play a bit on the Leafs PK, though, and managed to register six hits on the night.
– Dion Phaneuf‘s first goal was an absolute blast from the point that you hope to see more of during the season. Aside from that, though, he looked to be getting back into the swing of things this game and was nothing out of the ordinary.
After racking up two wins in one night, the Leafs will take on the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday night.
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