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Pre-season Postgame: Leafs fall to the Senators in first pre-season game

The Leafs faced off against the Senators in the nation’s capital tonight for their first game of this pre-season. Here were the lines for both teams:

Leafs Sens
 LW C RW LW C RW
 Hyman Matthews Nylander  Stone Pageau Ryan
 Kapanen Mueller Soshnikov  Hoffman  White  Smith
Martin Moore Fehr Burrows Suter

Gagne

Leivo Aaltonen Brown Perron Sexton

Randell

 LD RD LD RD
 Hainsey Rielly  Phaneuf Chabot
 Dermott Liljegren  Oduya Ceci
Rosen Carrick England Jaros
 G  G
 McElhinney  Anderson
 Sparks  Taylor

1st period

Things started off a little shaky, as the Leafs are guilty of a penalty early on in the 1st period. Before the play is dead, on the delayed penalty call, the Sens are able to capitalize on a poorly timed defensive change, and rush in to score the game’s first goal. 1-0 Sens.

Things got worse very quickly, as Dominic Moore gets called on a faceoff violation penalty that the league is trying to implement more strictly. The Sens would score on a scramble in front of the net shortly into the powerplay, making the score 2-0 for them.

Then just a minute or so later, a give and go play beats the Leafs’ soft zone defense and the Sens take a 3-0 lead.

Not much is going right for the Leafs, but on the positive side, the Dermott-Liljegren pairing showed some very strong efforts together, as they did in the rookie tournament.

The Leafs are really showing some discipline issues, though, as Dominic Moore takes another penalty to put the Leafs down a player. It was interesting to see the Leafs using Kapanen on the penalty kill, as that can be an area where he can earn a spot over someone like Leivo. The Senators would not score on this powerplay.

Yet another faceoff violation penalty occurred later in the period, this time against the Senators. Off the first faceoff of the powerplay, some dishing around finds Nylander on the half wall, who dishes cross-ice to Matthews, who fires a shot off the post and in. 3-1 for the Senators.

Immediately after the penalty, though, the Sens break out on a great pass to Pageau at center ice, and another great sauces pass to Stone streaking towards the net, who finishes the chance. 4-1 Senators.

The period would end shortly after, Senators leading 4 goals to 1.

2nd period

Dermott continued to impress in this game with a strong first shift in this period, cutting off a breakout pass smoothly and sending Leivo into the zone.

This period has started much slower than the first, it seems that both teams are starting get a bit messy on their breakouts. Seems that both teams are settling into their defensive systems as the game goes on.

As per usual, the pre-season game includes a goalie switch. Sparks comes in halfway through the second for McElhinney.

Finally a scoring play happens but for the wrong side, as the puck pops out in front and lands in an awkward spot where the Leafs can’t find it, and it ends up in the back of the net. 5-1 Sens.

And shortly later, a great spin pass finds Cody Ceci who beats Garret Sparks, 6-1 Sens.

3rd period

It’s no surprise that a 6-1 pre-season game lost some intrigue into the 3rd period. The Leafs really haven’t generated any sustaining pressure for the last two periods, and the first part of this one wasn’t much different..

One play did give way to some excitement as a puck beats Sparks but is stopped at the goal line by Timothy Liljegren, who fires the puck away.

Finally the Leafs managed to get another goal, as Nylander fires a beautiful one-timed shot that beats Danny Taylor:

The game would end a few minutes later with little action to report. Senators win the game 6-2.

Final Thoughts

There wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about this game, as the Leafs looked very sloppy defensively. The Dermott – Liljegren pairing had some bright moments but were far from perfect themselves. There was a serious lack of speed, which can obviously be expected for the first full game of training camp for most of these players.

Good things were the play of Matthews and Nylander, who showed their chemistry and elite talent stuck around over the offseason. I also really liked Calle Rosen on the powerplay, Liljegren’s passes on the breakout, Dermott’s zone entry defense, and pretty much everything Miro Aaltonen did.

Here are my 3 stars for tonight:

  1. Hoffman
  2. Anderson
  3. Matthews

Tune in tomorrow when the Leafs take on the Senators again, where a new cast of characters will be looking for some redemption for Toronto.