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Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs

Preseason Postgame: Last one before showtime!

Back at Ricoh to wrap up the preseason, the Leafs were unable to extend their 5-game winning streak as the Leafs Lite fell in a shootout to the Red Wings Lite.

In case you need a refresher on preseason rosters (don’t feel bad), here were the lines for the final game before things get started for real:

Leafs

Forwards

Leivo – Aaltonen – Kapanen

Greening – Smith – Grundstrom

Johnsson – Fehr – Soshnikov

T. Moore – Mueller – Rychel

Defense

Nielsen – Carrick

Dermott – Polak

LoVerde – Liljegren

Goalies

McElhinney

Sparks

Red Wings

Forwards

Abdelkader – Rasmussen – Parenteau

Sadowy – Glendening – Witowski

Lorito – Holmstrom – Shine

Ford – Turgeon – Campbell

Defense

Lashoff – Saarijarvi

Renouf – Hicketts

Ouellet – McIlrath

Goalies

Mrazek

Coreau

1st Period

Nearly halfway into the first, Eric Fehr redirected a shot from Vincent LoVerde, and it might have been an accident, but if so, it was a very happy one.

Eric Fehr, a trade deadline pickup from last year, saw very little time with the Leafs in the spring. However, it’s unlikely any other teams would pick him up on waivers, so he may have the dubious benefit of moving up and down a time or two this year. He is said to be one of those “good in the room” vets, which the Leafs like to have a few of, and if Dominic Moore is unable to deliver at 4C, Fehr could be a contender for that spot at some point.

2nd Period

After almost two whole periods of the Leafs winning 1-0, the Wings’ most recent first-round pick, Michael Rasmussen, tied it up on the power play. He and Joe Hicketts, a fellow youngster, looked good for the Wings this game. Even though neither is likely to spend much (if any) time with the Red Wings for the 2017-18 season, they are some fun kids to watch.

Also fun to watch was Carl Grundstrom, who is definitely not afraid to get in the middle of a scrum. There weren’t any fights this game, but Grundstrom and McIlrath enjoyed getting in each other’s faces a few times.

3rd Period

Things stayed knotted at 1-1 for most of the third period, with each team taking their share of penalties. All seemed lost when Matt Lorito (a local Detroit boy, nice to see) put the Wings up 2-1 (less nice to see). But after a few more back-and-forth penalties, Travis Dermott tied it back up with a minute left to play (excellent to see). Dermott has had a decent preseason, and while he will almost certainly start the season with the Marlies, it wouldn’t surprise me if he sees some time in the NHL this season.

Overtime…and a Shootout

Everyone loves some three-on-three hockey! No one loves shootouts! We got both, regardless. This way, the teams will be truly prepared for what awaits them in the regular season. A little taste of everything. Connor Carrick and Josh Leivo both had excellent chances in OT, but no dice. Eric Fehr scored a beauty to start off the shootout, but P-A Parenteau and Matt Lorito both scored for the Red Wings. Nikita Soshnikov and Connor Carrick couldn’t quite get past Jared Coreau, so the Leafs end their preseason with a shootout loss, which is by far the worst way to end a preseason that will determine the course of the regular season. (Wait, the final preseason game doesn’t determine the course of the regular season? Whew.)

Final Thoughts

Josh Leivo has looked pretty good this preseason, but has he looked good enough to “take someone’s job”? Mike Babcock told us today that’s what would have to happen for Leivo to become a full-time Leaf, and I’m not convinced. Aside from the possible question at 4C, Babcock likes what he has at forward, and Leivo hasn’t done quite enough to change that. But from a Marlies perspective, Leivo-Aaltonen-Kapanen isn’t half bad, and it would definitely be an improvement over Leivo’s press box year in 2016-17.

Curtis McElhinney had himself a nice game, as he sometimes does. He stopped several breakaways, and stayed pretty consistent throughout. It would’ve been nice to see him make a save in the shootout, but overall his performance was exactly what the Leafs are going to need in a backup goalie.

After a rough start to the preseason, it seems like Connor Carrick is finally shaking off the rust. He had several good chances to score (including once in OT), and maybe getting relegated to the “Marlies” preseason team was just enough to light a fire under him before opening night.

It sounds like we can expect to hear the final word on the Leafs’ opening night roster early next week.

  • lukewarmwater

    There is no question that the leafs simply have to improve in O.T. and the shoot outs this season. Last year’s ineptness cost them big time in losing several points.

  • Brooksterman

    I agree that Leivo-Aaltonen-Kapanen would be a good line with the Marlies. What’s not mentioned in the article is the odds that Leivo makes it through waivers to the Marlies is not good. He’s proven he can play and produce at the NHL level and because of his age someone will want him when he hits waivers.

    • BRstreetlaw

      for that matter, the idea that they would expose Carrick to waivers in order to “light a fire” under him is also hilarious. They’d be “burning” an asset!