By Stan Smith & The Old Prof

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in their third preseason game. What were the good, the bad, and the ugly from that game?

The Ugly

Let’s get the only ugly thing I saw from this game out of the way right off the bat. The only ugly thing in this game was Jordie Benn getting injured on his first shift and Carl Dahlstrom leaving the game shortly thereafter, leaving the Maple Leafs with four defensemen for most of the night.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Keefe, Sandin, Jarnkrok & Kerfoot

The Good

With the two injuries early in the game it is difficult to judge this as a typical game. Kudos to Sheldon Keefe for being creative and using both Calle Jarnkrok and Alex Kerfoot on defence. The first “good” is how well the two players performed. I realize it’s just one exhibition game but I have to think that this is something Keefe could file away if the situation arises in the regular season. 

Once again Denis Malgin was one of the best players on the ice for the Maple Leafs. There were a number of times he seemed to be in bad situations with the puck but was able to skate himself out of trouble. There were plays where he seemed to make something out of nothing. 

Denis Malgin, now with the Maple Leafs

Malign scored a nice power-play goal and an assist in this game to give him three points in two games in the preseason. He also didn’t shy away from the rough stuff. He had four hits on the night.

For the second game in a row, Pontus Holmberg played a nice, quiet, and strong game. He doesn’t seem to do anything that stands out offensively but also doesn’t get noticed for doing anything badly defensively. He did lay out a couple of nice hits in the game and was credited with four hits in total.  He also made a nice save behind Matt Murray to prevent a Montreal goal. 

Bobby McMann played a solid game. He crushed Chris Wideman with a heavy hit in the third period and then followed it up with a good scoring chance on a rebound. McMann was credited with seven hits and four shots in the game. 

Nick Robertson showed his talent on the Maple Leafs’ first goal, receiving a stretch pass from Mark Giordano, skating backward, staying onside, turning around, and getting a fast hard snapshot off to beat Sam Montembeault. After a so-so first preseason game Robertson was able to find another gear in this one as he showed his speed throughout the night. 

Matt Murray and Erik Kallgren combined for the shutout for the Maple Leafs.  Murray ended up with the exact same stat-line that Ilya Samsonov did in his 40 minutes played in his start, sixteen shots against, no goals allowed. It is only one start each in the preseason for both goaltenders but confidence for both the goalies and the players in front of them starts with baby steps. These were excellent first steps for both Murray and Samsonov.

We also can’t forget Kallgren and the importance of his start to the season. He has allowed one goal on 22 shots in 60 minutes of play over two games. Odds are that one of Murray or Samsonov will suffer some kind of injury during the season. Having Kallgren able to step in if needed is crucial. He also appears to be earning the number one spot for the Marlies as well. 

William Nylander was not as dominant in this game as he was in his first preseason game. He was not as noticeable offensively. That does not mean he did not have a good game. He had an excellent game without the puck. The whole team seemed to be paying special attention to defence as a result of the injuries to Benn and Dahlstrom. Nylander seemed to embrace that role and made some nice plays to disrupt the Canadiens’ offence in his own zone. He even laid a nice hit on Jordan Harris in the second period.

Alex Steeves was noticeable for all of the right reasons in this game. He had an assist, three shots, and three hits.  

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 3-0 Win Over the Canadiens

The Bad

I again want to emphasize that the bad is not necessarily that “bad.” These are things that I would not consider “good.” 

Kyle Clifford did not show much that would suggest to us that he is deserving a spot on this roster over any of the young prospects who were also vying for jobs. While he didn’t do anything to stand out for any bad reasons, he really didn’t do anything to separate himself from the pack for any good reasons. 

Kyle Clifford, Maple Leafs

Before training camp opened we stated we fully expected Clifford to not only end up on waivers before the regular season started. We also expect him to clear waivers as well. This game did nothing to change our minds.

When we see a player like 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds Curtis Douglas, we so badly want him to do well. A player of that size can make such a difference in the game if he has the skills to play well. While we have watched Douglas play some pretty decent hockey at the AHL level, the only word we can think of to describe his play in this game is “awkward.” 

We kept having flashbacks to Frederik Gauthier watching Douglas out there. A player who is that big has to really learn to use that size to his advantage. It appears Douglas still has to learn that. 

We want to conclude with a thought. While this game was just one exhibition game it did show that the Maple Leafs have a number of talented players in their system. If these players continue to develop it bodes well for this team two or three years down the road. We both are hoping to be able to catch more Marlies games this season. They should be an exciting team to watch. 


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