It's hard to make any conclusions in the pre-season especially when you are playing a team that is being chosen almost unanimously as the most likely to finish dead last in the NHL. Throw in the fact that they weren't fielding a full squad and it makes the 3-2 win last night meaningless right?
Well, to a large extent but it was still nice to see the top line of Antro-Mats-Blake dominate the Coyotes' backline including Derek Morris that once upon a time was a real defender. Antropov was so inspired by Blake's speed on the outside that he blew by a defender. A little more work on chemistry and the team will have their top line set.
Alex Steen, whose father Thomas starred in Winnipeg, opened the scoring on a rebound in front of friends and family before two brutal giveaways in the second period let the desert dogs take the lead. Maurice must have ripped the team in the dressing room because Phoenix had about 2 shots in the third before the last 2 minutes. Blake tapped in a shot from mid-air after Mats' patented carry my defender to the front of the net move and Chad Kilger's stone hands softened long enough for him to pot Bates' nice dish from a good position in the slot.
Tonight the two teams will renew acquaintances at the ACC and wunderkid Anton Stralman will be making his debut after a bout with bronchitis kept him out of the last two games. The top line gets the night off and Vesa Toskala, the 2008 Conn Smythe winner, gets his first start for the Leafs at home. Following the pattern he should let in 1 goal.
Prediction: 5-1 Leafs - Steen, Tucker, Tlusty, Pohl, and Stralman
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Alex Steen - Darcy Tucker
Jiri Tlusty - Matt Stajan - Tony Slamaleinen
Bates Battaglia - John Pohl - John Mitchell
Collin Murphy Kris Newbury - Wade Belak
Bryan McCabe - Carlo Colaiacovo
Tomas Kaberle - Ian White
Staffan Krownwall - Anton Stralman
Vesa Toskala - Starting