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Preseason Game 1: Senators 6 - Maple Leafs 3

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Hockey! Leafs first game of the season could have gone better, but, Mitch Marner!

Antoine Bibeau in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Bibeau in net.

Welcome to your first recap of the preseason! Like the players, refs and commentators I'm still very much remembering how to do this, so please disregard any rust.

1st Period: 2-1 Senators

The Sens started off fast, with two goals in the first minute of play. Antoine Bibeau didn't look great, neither did Connor Brown. Leafs got one back on the power play about midway through the period.

Generally messy play, everyone still finding their feet and place. A lot of penalties on both sides, mostly holding and hooking. Pace was fairly fast but not quite what we've been seeing at the World Cup of Hockey (no surprise there).

Goal 1

Standouts:

Mitch Marner – looked good offensively – fast, dominant, moving well without adding unnecessary tricks. Clearly used to better linemates and might be better off shooting than passing as his end move. Made a defensive mistake early on, giving up on a play that lead to a Sens goal. Had an assist on first two Leafs goals.

Andrew Nielsen – seems to be holding his own, could be a little faster. Working with Marner a lot, scored the first Leafs goal with a nifty shot through traffic from fairly far out. Nice shot seems to be point a lot.

Connor Brown – drew attention for penalties and mistakes, had one noticeably good scoring chance.

Kerby Rychel's game came to a swift end. Senator Andreas Englund went for a hard open-ice hit on Kadri and Rychel went after him. Poor Englund didn't seem to know what was going on, and Rychel got served with a match penalty and five minute major. Not the best way to show the coaches you're worth keeping around.

Brandon Prust was only noticeable in his clearly pre-negotiated fight with Mark Borowiecki for which they got coincidental minors. He may have decided that Rychel would need game tape that showed against whom one should actually pick a fight.

2nd Period 4-3 Senators

A better period for the Leafs. Although the Sens seemed to get more physical, the Leafs woke up and started to play more aggressively, clicking more as a unit. No penalties, just goals from Corrado and Gardiner. (Gardiner goal was more of an own goal by Borowiecki but it made Kadri beam like sunshine so we're glad for it).

This was definitely not Bibeau's night. To quote Katya “It's like a drunk John Gibson”.

Goal 2

Standouts:

Nazem Kadri and Brooks Laich both stepped it up a bit this period, active in plays and puck handling. Laich in particular had an almost-breakaway that was foiled when another Leaf went offside.

Marner – more nifty plays, another assist and even one instance where I swear he was using his puck handling to distract the Sens from the guy he was planning to pass to.

Frank Corrado – second Leafs goal. Other than that... not much to say. Commentators indicated the goal was actually a 2 posts and out but it counted. Preseason!

Nielsen – Hurt early in the period, falling over a Senator looked like a leg/knee injury. Back about nine minutes later. Perhaps a little quieter but still getting minutes. Got into a “discussion” with Casey Bailey at the whistle at the end of the period.

Goal 3

3rd Period 6-3 Senators

Started 4 on 4 due to the aforementioned “discussion” between Nielsen and Bailey at the end of the second. Fairly quiet first half but Sens started getting the bounces in second half of the period. (For instance, some of the Leafs thought the fifth goal came off a high stick but it counted.) Kaskisuo was in net this period – not quite as messy as Bibeau but wasn't super impressive either. At one point he nearly got caught behind the net.

Standouts:

Not a whole lot stood out this period. Corrado was shooting a lot, Colin Greening was in on plays (but also got one of the few penalties in the third). Nazem Kadri was doing pretty much what we all expect Nazem Kadri to be doing. Raman Hrabarenka and Andrew Campbell were both putting in good, solid time without being noticeable for any one thing in particular. I saw a lot of broken sticks this game, I'm not really sure what was up with that.

All-in-all a disappointing result, but not a bad game. Now, when do we get to see Marner passing off to Matthews or JvR around the net?