The Leafs dropped their first home game of the 2013 Preseason with a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. The Leafs opened the scoring in the first period after James van Riemsdyk stole the puck and sniped it home for his first of the preseason to make it 1-0. The lead would stand until late in the first when former Leaf Luke Schenn took a shot from the point and beat Bernier to tie the game.
The Leafs took the lead with a Jamie Devane slapper. Bruno Gervais would tie it up, and it would remain tied until the shootout. JVR, Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson would score for Toronto, but it was Tye McGinn that won the shootout and the game for the Flyers. Here are some notes from the game:
These young guys are good
Two bright spots for the Leafs this evening were young defensemen Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly. Jake Gardiner showed his maturing poise and control with the puck as he made the right plays and seemed as smooth as anyone with the puck on his stick. He showed off his defensive game when he stopped a late 2-on-1 to keep the game tied. He played over 25 minutes and was a plus-1. Morgan Rielly most likely won’t make the team, but he still showed his impressive skills this evening. Playing over 21 minutes, Rielly was nothing short of promising. For a pretty lacklustre defense corps for the Leafs, having guys like Rielly and Gardiner step up makes the future look bright.
Jonathan Bernier played as well as you would want a backup to play
Bernier shut down the Flyers constant offense and all it took to beat him was a deflection off of Mark Fraser. He finished with 15 saves and a .938 save percentage, albeit only playing a period and a bit. I say “backup” because I think despite the mainstream media non-stop loving of having Bernier as the starter, I still think James Reimer gets the starting nod. He has shown he is reliable and basically carried the Leafs to the postseason and as far as he could. Bernier had little playing time last year with Jonathan Quick running the show with the Los Angeles Kings.
James van Riemsdyk continues to haunt Flyers fans dreams
James van Riemsdyk continued to play well as he had a goal both in regulation and in the shootout. JVR seems to raise his level of play when he plays against the Flyers and he did not stop tonight. Playing on a line with Kessel and Bozak, he flourished with opportunities and did not hesitate to take them. That Luke Schenn trade is looking better and better by the day, and I continue to ask myself why on earth Paul Holmgren pulled the trigger on that trade. Thanks though, Holmgren. You rock.
It did not take long to see the contract Tyler Bozak signed was stupid and crazy. He made mistake after mistake and missed the net on multiple chances that Kessel set him up for. He would be fine as a third-line centre, but not a first-line one. At the end of the day, it is something we have to live with. Phil Kessel slowly got into form tonight as he showed the speed and offensive skills we are familiar with. He did not score, but he created a lot of chances that some players *cough Bozak cough* could not capitalize on. But his chemistry with JVR is fun to watch and they should score a lot of goals together through the season.
Moar Overtime. No more shootouts. It is a buzz kill.
The Leafs will travel to Ottawa where they will visit the new-look Senators on Thursday. They will then play a home-and-home against the Buffalo Sabres before finishing the exhibition season off against the Senators and Detroit Red Wings. The game on Thursday can be seen on TSN starting at 7:30 p.m.