September 27 2013 11:13PM
The Leafs played game nine of their ten game preseason tonight. As such, we saw a close to full roster - one that was missing Phil Kessel to suspension, and Fraser McLaren to injury, but was essentially what we'll see on opening night. The final game will feature a duller roster, to say the least; a final look at players who's fates are unknown, and ability to rest. In the meantime, this was maybe the first real look at the 2013/14 Toronto Maple Leafs.
...but it wasn't a particularly good one. Chalk it up to jitters, lack of chemistry, small sample sizes, whatever you want, but the Detroit Red Wings walked away with a convincing 5-2 victory.
Detroit was first on the board just five minutes into the game, as a point shot by Joakim Andersson flew past Jonathan Bernier, who was heavily screened by Dan Cleary, and some of his own teammates. The Leafs took advantage of a Johan Franzen penalty shortly thereafter, as Mason Raymond set up Nazem Kadri for a half-break to beat Jimmy Howard. Dave Bolland took a slashing penalty as the period passed the midway point, but the score remained 1-1 after twenty minutes.
The second period began with a similar process to the first; Luke Glendening picked up an opportunistic rebound to give the Wings the lead, and Nikolai Kulemin threw a puck off of Joffrey Lupul's foot to tie the game again just four minutes later. The Wings finished the period with the last laugh, however. With James van Riemsdyk in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Henrik Zetterberg finished a fancy passing play with a wrister that beat Bernier.
Detroit never looked back from there. Daniel Alfredsson did what he does best, producing against the Leafs when the games don't matter. In this case, he fired a slapshot from the hash marks to bring the score to 4-2 as Lupul, watched from the penalty box (coincidentally, for tripping Alfredsson). Johan Franzen sealed the deal with another powerplay goal with seven minutes to go to give the Red Wings a 5-2 victory.
- Despite letting in five goals tonight, I liked what I saw out of Bernier. He's a very agile goaltender. If he could find a way to be as positionally aware as James Reimer (or vice versa), the Leafs would have an elite player between the pipes. I won't hold my breath on such a thing happening, but at the very least, he makes it so the Leafs have a solid option on any given night.
- Mason Raymond and Nazem Kadri seem to be clicking well together. Maybe the upside to the Clarkson suspension will be that Raymond sees time with Kadri on the second line? Both are incredibly fast and appear to be aware of where the other one is.
- As much as they got away with it last season, getting outshot 37-19 is never a good idea. Especially when you consider that number includes an 8-8 equal footing in the first period. Detroit's style of play is the antithesis of Toronto's, and if this keeps up, may also be the Kryptonite.
- Both teams are headed to Toronto to close out the preseason tomorrow night. The game starts at 7PM.
Photo courtesy of @jennahoussain on instagram