Toronto Maple Leafs Pre-Season Action: Clipped 7-3 By Detroit Red Wings

October 1st, 2010 No Comments

In their second last game before the real dance commences the Toronto Maple Leafs had their heads handed to them, getting outclassed by the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 7-3 in front of 18,577 fans at the Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings dominated the Maple Leafs all game long, pounding Leafs starter Jussi Rynnas with a total of 34 shots, including a third period that saw the Red Wings fire a total of 16 shots to the Leafs four.

A lot of Maple Leaf fans were bragging about the Leafs’ penalty kill, which had been very good heading into tonight’s action, only to see the Red Wings make a mockery of the Leafs’ PK, scoring four times on seven chances, mostly thanks to Tyler Bozak and Mike Komisarek who took two penalties apiece.

With a ton of attention focused on rookie forward Nazem Kadri he failed to impress, registering one shot in just 11:17 of icetime. In fact, on this night, every single one of the Maple Leafs centres seemed to struggle, with Bozak taking two undisciplined penalties, Kadri getting pulled after eleven minutes of play, Christian Hanson emerging with a minus-2 rating, Mike Brown emerging with a minus-2 rating after just 10:24 of icetime, John Mitchell looking like, well, “John Mitchell and Mikhail Grabovski emerging with just 13:25 of icetime.

Sure, Bozak and Grabo each scored a goal, but their offensive prowess was not the story of the game—their inability to compete with the Red Wings down the middle, especially defensively, was.

Comparatively, Pavol Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula and veteran centre Mike Modano combined for a total of two goals and seven points, not to mention dominating the Leafs down the middle all night long.

While most of the icetime was spread out, outside of starting Jussi Rynnas in between the pipes (who had been very good throughout the pre-season) Leafs head coach Ron Wilson went with a roster that will be very familiar come opening night, while the Red Wings elected to do pretty much the same, going with rookie goaltender Thomas McCollum.

If you were looking for a bright spot from the Maple Leafs roster you could applaud the effort of Kris Versteeg, who had two assists on the evening and looked very good throughout the night.

Phil Kessel continued to be hot, scoring one goal and registering an assist, for another two point night in the pre-season.

Clearly, while Maple Leaf fans deserve to be encouraged by the efforts of Kessel and Versteeg (amongst others) this pre-season, the negatives are starting to rear their ugly head at the wrong time, which has me more than a little alarmed at this point.

Without question, Ron Wilson and Brian Burke will have some tough questions to answer after tonight’s lackluster effort, the least of which will be what to do with Kadri, who, after a tremendous effort against the Ottawa Senators the other night, fell flat on his face against the Red Wings—who, for the most part, were icing an NHL ready roster.

John Mitchell, Christian Hanson and Mikhail Grabovski did little to endear themselves to Wilson and Burke, nor did Komisarek, Mike Brown, Luca Caputi, or Carl Gunnarsson, who, despite a better effort, still looks to have taken a step back from last year.

Jeff Finger got his first taste of pre-season action, playing a total of 16:57, including a total of 2:07 on the penalty kill, emerging with an even plus/minus rating. All things considered Finger was impressive, but I am still pretty confident that he gets sent down to the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

The Leafs will be facing an uphill battle for the majority of the NHL season, their game against the Detroit Red Wings was just a small taste of the trials and tribulations this squad will be facing going forward.

News flash Maple Leafs fans—the 2010-11 season ain’t gonna be easy!

Until next time,

Peace!

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