The Toronto Maple Leafs are now riding a three-game winning streak after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime on Saturday night by a score of 5-4.
Yes, it’s pre-season, but who cares? It’s hockey, and we’re winning. Enough said.
Here’s some random thoughts about the game:
* Jason Allison, do not quit your day job. For every play he executes, he manages about triple the amount in turnovers. One turnover in particular could have easily cost the Leafs the game. Allison was skating in the neutral zone, with absolute zero speed, and failed to keep control of the puck after an outlet pass from Mike Komisarek (who has been exceptional on the blueline thus far), so he attempted to dangle around Claude Giroux. Didn’t work, and Giroux had a partial breakaway, but luckily hit the side of the net on a missed opportunity. I think it’s safe to say that Allison does not fit in the Leafs’ regime. His lack of foot speed makes him look awkward with the rest of the troops, and with Phil Kessel acquired, the top-six is now more crowded than ever. Aurevoir, Allison.
* As I said above, Komisarek has been a force on the blueline. He’s sticking up for his teammates, laying out bone-crushing body checks, blocking shots and not shying away from dropping the gloves. He’s the definition of truculence. I know, I know… overused. But it’s so easy!
* Nazim Kadri is gaining confidence out there. Multiple times I spotted the 18-year-old calling for the puck with confidence on the powerplay. He entered the Flyers’ zone with relative ease on a few occurrences, a valuable asset for a player of his ilk. While he won’t crack the lineup this season, I will not be surprised in the slightest if he’s a Leaf by the 2010-11 campaign. He just needs to bulk up a bit. He’s got the aggressiveness to survive as a smaller forward in the National Hockey League, so as soon as he adds size and gains even more confidence out there, he’s going to compliment a player like Kessel extremely well. I just got shivers.
* Vesa Toskala was solid. Yes, he let in 4 goals on 29 shots, and a couple of the goals were questionable, but as head coach Ron Wilson explained after the game, he’s adjusting to a new system under goalie coach Francois Allaire. Not to mention the guy hasn’t played in a very long time. He also made a couple of nice saves in overtime that allowed Niklas Hagman to go the other way and finish the game. Hold judgment on him until the regular season debuts.
* Hagman is the next Alexander Ovechkin. What a goal, folks. Very reminiscent of his highlight reel goal last season. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7ef6usJJwI
* Matt Stajan is looking to pick up where he left off–and then some. He was the hardest working player out there tonight, and managed a goal (a nice one, actually) and an assist. He’s developing into the ideal second-line center. Solid in all three zones and can pot anywhere from 50-60 points. I’ll keep him, thanks. Tyler Bozak may have to move to the wing if he is indeed destined for the Leafs this season. Stajan won 56% of his faceoffs tonight, going 10 for 18.
* Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle look to make a formidable pairing on the PP. Reminded me of the Kaberle-McCabe days right away. Only Beauchemin can play defense and doesn’t score on his own net. What a bomb he has from the point. And Kaberle looks extremely comfortable out there. Perhaps the newly implemented toughness will help his game after all.
* Colton Orr is the Leafs’ version of Chuck Norris. Period.
This is my first post-game report, so take it easy on me, comrades.
What are your thoughts on the game?
Update: Here are the Leafs’ first cuts via www.mapleleafs.com:
“The following players were assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League: Alex Berry, Darryl Boyce, Josh Engel, Andrew Engelage, Tom Galvin, Stefano Giliati, Richard Greenop, Juraj Mikus, Dale Mitchell, Phil Oreskovic, Todd Perry, James Reimer, Kyle Rogers, Joe Ryan, Greg Scott, Robert Slaney, and Mikhail Stefanovich.
The Maple Leafs assigned the following players to their respective junior clubs: Jesse Blacker (Windsor – OHL), Joel Champagne (P.E.I. – QMJHL), and Brandon Manning (Chilliwack – WHL).
Bill Thomas and Juha Uotila have been released from their Professional Try-Out contracts.”