By Stan Smith
The lineups for this game were flipped from Friday night’s affair with the Toronto Maple Leafs icing their “A” team and the Red Wings coming in with their best players in the press box. It showed on the ice as the Maple Leafs pretty much dominated the game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs finished their preseason with a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings hopefuls on Saturday night. Now it is just a matter of time before we find out what the lineup looks like for Wednesday’s opening game of the season.
We have to start with the Denis Malgin “highlight reel” goal. If you haven’t seen this goal yet check it out in the highlights video. It has to be the goal of the Maple Leafs’ preseason. Malgin starts the play in his own end as he intercepts a Red Wings’ pass and tips it to Alex Kerfoot who gives it right back to Malgin, who then goes coast to coast, splitting the defence and beating Red Wings goalie Jussi Olkinuora over his left shoulder.
The quality of competition has to be taken into consideration when we talk about the Maple Leafs’ power play going three for four. It was a thing of beauty though as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, and Michael Bunting roamed freely in the Red Wings’ zone with the man advantage.
Matthews and Nylander both scored twice and had ample opportunity to accomplish the hat trick. Marner and Rielly were at their best playmaking selves as they notched three assists each.
The Nylander, Malign, and Adam Gaudette second line was just as dominant as the top line of Matthews, Marner, and Bunting.
The bottom six combinations of Kerfoot, with Calle Jarnkrok and Pierre Engvall plus David Kampf, with Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Zach Aston-Reese looked, and played, more like two third lines instead of a third and fourth line.
Again we caution that the calibre of players iced by the Red Wings was more of an AHL team than an NHL team. At the very least though, this had to be a good confidence builder for the Maple Leafs heading into the regular season.
Matt Murray did not have a bad game by any means. He didn’t get much work as the skaters in front of him limited the Red Wings to only 19 shots. On a lot of the shots, he did not look as “in control” as Ilya Samsonov did in his recent starts.
It might seem strange to say a goalie who let in three goals in his last start looked better than a goalie who only allowed one, but Samsonov did look stronger in the net on Friday than Murray did on Saturday night. In Murray’s defence, it has to be difficult for a goalie to get into a rhythm when the game is as lopsided as this one was.
On the goal that Murray did give up, he was lucky the first shot that beat him hit the post. He did not look that great when the follow-up shot beat him.
Rasmus Sandin and Matthews both made errors on the play as well. Sandin let Jonatan Berggren get behind him on the original scoring chance. Then Matthews failed to lead Sandin enough on the following breakout, allowing Berggren to get his stick on the puck to create a turnover, leading to the goal scored by Pius Suter that made the game 1-0 at the time.
Jake Muzzin, playing in his first game of the preseason, caught a high stick in the first period that left his mouth a mess and caused him to go to the dressing room for repairs.
Somehow all four officials on the ice missed it. Neither the two referees nor the two linesmen called anything on the play. A review of the NHL rule book shows the following:
The Linesman must stop play immediately and report to the Referees when:
(xii) When it is apparent that an injury has resulted from a high stick that has gone undetected by the Referees and requires the assessment of a double-minor penalty. (Rule 60)
We can see the possibility of two of the four officials not seeing the play. We find it difficult to believe all four of them would fail to see it.
Now, as fans, we wait to see what happens in the next few days. Who makes the team? Who doesn’t? Who gets placed on waivers? Who gets claimed?
Will John Tavares be ready? Will Timothy Liljegren get placed on LTIR? Will Kyle Dubas make any trades?
So many questions. This is a fun time of year.