DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 30: Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a first period goal while playing the Detroit Red Wings during a preseason game at Joe Louis Arena on September 30, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jake Gardiner opens the scoring, Mike Brown scores two, and Mike Komisarek nets a game winning goal. Offense from Mike Brown and the Back End makes up for a couple of defensive lapses in the Leafs' second to last pre-season game.
There were a couple undue penalites that fell against the Leafs (total: 9 against, 5 for), but the special teams were good enough to hold on, allowing just one PPG against. A few thoughts:
- Gardiner looked good. I am constantly impressed by how his skating ability allows him to use his body to protect the puck. I'd like to see him develop a slap shot as an option along the blue line, but that short side wrister is his bread and butter, and tonight it led to a goal. Ignore the assist on the Brown goal, though, because "lucky" doesn't begin to describe it. He had his defensive lapses, but over what I expect was a heavy amount of ice time.
- Brown threw a puck on net and got a lucky deflection. Then, he threw the puck at the net and the puck snuck over the line. A grinder's goal, to be sure, but definitely the kind of thing we want to see out of our fourth liners. That's right, Mike Brown met 66% of last season's scoring in one game of the pre-season.
- Gustavsson went VHS on an outside shot, got an unlucky bounce straight onto the stick of Bertuzzi standing on the back door for the first goal against. On the second goal, Gustavsson came off the post early (below), but you hate to see a turnover in the defensive zone, and a low walkout is always tough. Overall, Gustavsson looked okay, but wasn't tested much.
- MGK looked good early on, even though they didn't finish at all this game.
- He got the game winning goal, but with a couple of blown defensive chances, Komisarek looked okay through most of the game, but certainly not impressive. I don't hate the idea of a Gardiner-Komisarek pairing, as it would let us shelter the heck out of both of them, but they still have some defensive issues to overcome (most notable on the third goal against, where Gardiner overskates the puck, and Komisarek does an artist's interpretation of the word "useless").
- If the Leafs do carry 8 defensemen through the start of the regular season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson scratch two players as a pairing. Gunnarsson/Aulie-Franson scratched one night, Gardiner-Komisarek scratched the next. I don't think this is a good way to develop players, but I don't work in hockey.
- Leafs got outshot 21-11 through the second, and the game ended 29-19.
Game In Six Highlights
Ron Wilson Attacks
Ron Wilson goes from "helpful" to "pissed off" through the quote-of-the-night below:
"[Q about Gardiner playing his way onto the team]. He's making [this decision] tough, but it's not tough to be honest with you. [Q: Why isn't it tough?] Because if he's one of your better defensemen, it's an easy decision. His skating and his poise with his puck. He played well with the Marlies for 10 games last year, but I never saw his poise this good. [Q: Do you expect him to be with your team?] "[snappy] I don't know. Who are you with anyways?" [Q: Do you expect him to be on the team?] "I don't know, we have another pre-season game."