Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-season Post-game #8: 5 Thoughts of the Leafs’ domination over Red Wings

The final whistle of the pre-season has been blown. For the next several months, it’s only games that matter in the standings and trying to win a playoff series. The Toronto Maple Leafs demolished the Detroit Red Wings in their last exhibition game, 5-0.

Everyone was able to chip in with some points and goals. Auston Matthews with a goal and two assists, Tavares with a goal and an assist, Tyson Barrie with two assists, and Johnsson, Nylander and Moore with a goal each. What a night for the offensive production to get rolling.

As Babcock mentioned in his post-game, the moves that they made this summer and the “main pieces that you’ve been thinking about for a long time, are way better.”

This is going to be an interesting, but exciting season for Toronto. So let’s go over some thoughts from their final exhibition game before this significant regular season.

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1) William Nylander should be William Nylander more

Nylander had himself a game. Highlighted by an immense goal that was hit so hard that it first appear to be a rebound, just because it hit the net and bounced right back out.

He’s obvously capable of doing this. His shot has been in the spotlight and a noticeable aspect to his game in the past, but obviously his lack of success recently has overshadowed that point.

His ability to pull off these shots while having the agility to avoid defenders, makes him a joy to watch. So we should all just accept that Nylander should just be doing more of his things, rather than being something else.

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2) The Change on the Blue Line is Noticeable

It’s just the pre-season, but it appears that the breakout passes that Babcock love so much, has been executed extremely well in these past eight games. It might be the personnel or more communication tactically, but things are clicking.

Cody Ceci doesn’t look that terrible and having Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin for an entire season should be a delight to watch. Even with the likely bottom pairing of Rasmus Sandin and Martin Marincin to start the season, there will never be a dull moment when it comes to the Leafs’ defencemen this season.

If everything is able to work correctly, the Leafs might have a balanced team offensively and defensively, for the first time in what feels like more than a decade.

3) Penalty Kill = Fun

It’s a trending surge in the NHL to put your skilled players on the penalty kill and the Leafs have certainly gone all-in on that notion.

Just looking at the forwards that played while the team was shorthanded, it’s a list of players that are able to approach the game with power and speed — and there’s Gauthier and Shore. But even having players like Mitch Marner and Kasperi Kapanen on the ice while your team is killing a penalty is incredibly valuable.

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Trevor Moore proved tonight that a penalty kill doesn’t always mean two useless minutes where you focus on defence only.

If the Leafs are able to continue the aggressive nature of their penalty kill and award players for being responsible on both ends of the ice while also being able to explode off the rush, then it’s going to be a fun season.

4) Depth, Depth, and More Depth

It appeared tonight that it was a constant onslaught of wave after wave of five-skater units that did not want the Red Wings to even sniff any sort of scoring chance.

Going down the depth chart of each position, it’s just a consistently dangerous player that could make any sort of positive impact on the ice for Toronto. It’s a team full of talented players with some top-tier players in the whole world of hockey.

With that much talent up top, it’s a huge compliment to the front office and development staff that this team doesn’t appear to be top-heavy when it comes to their ability.

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5) Okay, but it’s the Detroit Red Wings

Every victory needs context for the opposition and this is the Detroit Red Wings in the year 2019. Final pre-season game, they’re the visitors, and they are heading into a season where they are bound to be hoping for draft lottery results as soon as the trade deadline passes.

The Leafs looked outstanding tonight, but you have to take into consideration that it’s against this type of opponent.

Toronto opens their season on Oct. 2 against the Ottawa Senators, puck drop is at 7:00 pm ET.