The Leafs won the preseason version of the Battle of Ontario with a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The Senators opened the scoring in the first period with a clapper from Fredrik Claesson. The Leafs answered in the second period, with two quick goals coming from Nazem Kadri and Mason Raymond to put them up 2-1. With just six seconds remaining in the second, an Andre Petersson backhander would beat Leafs goaltender Drew MacIntyre to tie up the game. The game was decided by Dave Bolland’s hard-nosed effort halfway through the third period to put in the Leafs’ third goal, which held up as the game-winner. Here are some thoughts on the game:
Raymond earning his spot
The former Vancouver Canucks player currently on a professional tryout with the Leafs has surely proven his skill in his first two preseason performances. His speed is incredible, giving him the ability to blow past defenders and create opportunities. The second goal of the game was a prime example of the speed that Raymond brings to Toronto’s lineup. With James van Riemsdyk handling the puck in the offensive zone with few options, Raymond wheeled past the Senators defender to give JVR a perfect passing lane and Raymond was able to pot the quick tap-in goal. His play thus far in the preseason is definitely proving his usefulness to a Leafs team that lost some quickness over the offseason with the Mikhail Grabovski buyout.
The performance of the new faces
Players that were recently added to the Leafs’ roster over the offseason are proving they are positive additions. Jonathan Bernier, who started the game in net for Toronto, played a solid game between the pipes. He made some big saves, and appeared to be very comfortable and calm in the crease. Bernier stopped 10 of 11 shots before being replaced by MacIntyre at the end of the first period. Dave Bolland showed off his gritty, hard-nosed type of play, which in this game earned him a goal. He was able to push his way to the front of the net and put home the garbage that would win it for the Leafs. David Clarkson also had a solid game. He was finishing checks, getting under the skin of opposing players and enjoying a few offensive opportunities. Overall, it was a great game for the new guys.
Nazem Kadri continues his strong preseason
Kadri had an excellent game, and is further proving that fans should be grateful he was re-signed in time for the season. In this game he displayed his offensive skill, putting the Leafs on the board with a five-hole goal on Craig Anderson. Every time he touches the puck he seems to be able to make something happen and generate an opportunity. Even when he wasn’t scoring, he was playing a physical game, getting into a small scrap and throwing a few hits. Unfortunately, he blocked a shot around his wrist area and left the game. He returned briefly but quickly left again after taking a face-off. All we can hope is that it is nothing too serious and that he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season.
The Leafs will battle the Buffalo Sabres in a home-and-home on Saturday and Sunday where they’ll look to improve their current preseason record of 2-0-1 before concluding their exhibition season against the Sens and Detroit Red Wings.