The Leafs' playoff chances were written off after their 4-0 loss to the Sabres on Monday so I can only assume that last night's 3-1 win over the Cup contender sens that city officials are looking at parade logistics this morning. That's right, the Leafs renewed the Battle of Ontario without missing a beat and rang up a second consecutive win against the ladies from the nation's capital.
Seriously, it is only pre-season but it is good to see some good performances out of some of the youngsters, most notably Brendan Bell, and trade-bait Mikael Tellqvist. On the forward front, my co-favourite for a big year, a rebuilt and revitalized Jeff O'Neill, was a revelation as was a former charge of Paul Maurice, Bates Battaglia. The bottom line is that this is one more game spent by the boys learning Maurice's system and each game helps.
Of course, the joke of the day is the the sens saw 'p-season' on the schedule, thought it was the post-season, and let a hot Leafs goalie shut them down in a demoralizing loss. The bad news is that Kubina is joining Kaberle and Carlo on the injured list. Also, Hal Gill had four giveaways. Hopefully, all issues will clear up before the real games start.
The Final Word
As always (twice) here is the final word from each city:
Kaigorodov, 23, the touted Russian centre who is attempting to find a home on a line with captain Daniel Alfredsson and Peter Schaefer, didn't inspire much confidence last night. While he only had half a game to work with Alfredsson -- the captain left the game for precautionary reasons in the second period after suffering a groin injury -- he didn't showcase much. Early on, he shied away from a couple of hits at the blue-line. [Editor's Note: Sounds like he will fit in just fine] He suffered the embarrassment of falling, untouched, deep in his own end late in the first period. While the combination lasted, there was little chemistry between Kaigorodov and Alfredsson. In the third period, Mike Peca beat Kaigorodov cleanly on a draw deep in the senators' zone, leading directly to the Maple Leafs' third goal from Andy Wozniewski.
The Toronto Maple Leafs no longer enjoy the economic advantage that once that allowed them to shop in the free-agent market and buy some of the best talent available. But they are betting that their one-year, $2.5-million (U.S.) investment in Michael Peca will make a difference this coming National Hockey League season. Peca, playing his first exhibition game with the Maple Leafs, set up two goals in the third period that helped lift Toronto to a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place last night. Centring a line with Nik Antropov and Chad Kilger, Peca was one of Toronto's better forwards, especially during the later stages of the game as the Leafs rallied from a 1-0 disadvantage midway through the second period.
So it's a good start to Peca's Leaf career and an opening victory over the sens. It does not count for much in the pre-season but after missing the playoffs every little bit counts.