Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leafs Split Pre - Season Battle of Ontario With Sens!

The pre - season is a go and started off with a back to back battle of Ontario with the Sens. At first glance, fans may assume that this team will once again have that "Jekyll and Hyde" persona that has plague the team in recent years. Despite the two different results in the first two outings, that would be an unfair assessment. The first game saw a plethora of minor league talent and rookies, interspersed with what I would consider a mere 7 bonafide NHL players. I am not one to make excuses for this team, but a lack of experience and cohesiveness, had a hand in the 5 - 0 defeat. The Leafs were abysmal on the power play going 0/8. They squandered two five on three opportunities, both over a minute in length, and had no structure, with most of their shots being blocked or going hopelessly wide. In game two, the Maple Leafs lineup boasted eleven NHL regulars and the results showed. The power play scored all four Leaf goals in the 4 - 1 victory. Kulemin, Kessel, Caputi, and Grabovski all got their names on the score sheet, and the penalty kill was flawless. The rookie goal tending tandem James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, did their part to halt any Ottawa scoring threats.

Here are some of my very early first impressions. Nazem Kadri is simply trying to do too much. He needs to settle down, relax and play his game. Don't get caught in the media hype proclaiming you the "saviour" of this franchise. Get back to basics. Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong were the only two forwards who showed any jump in the Leafs opening game, and may prove to be phenomenal signings by Burke. Phil Kessel looks to be in mid season form already. Last night he seemed faster then before, and every time he had the puck, he was a scoring threat. If this trend continues 40 goals is a very real possibility from him this year. It seems to me that the Leafs may finally have some depth in net and are in good shape for years to come. Finally, young Jesse Blacker for the last couple of years is proving to be a solid d -man. At 19 years old, he rarely seems to make a bad decision, and in his first pre-season game this season recorded two assists. A few years down the line he could be an integral part of the teams top six defensive lineup. Pre - season continues tonight as the Maple Leafs play the first part of a back to back set with the Philadelphia Flyers.

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