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Pre-Season Game Recap: Leafs B-Team disappoint in Detroit, lose 5-1

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Cuts loom as preseason comes to an end.

NHL: Preseason-Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
Sep 26, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen (31) leave the ice after a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Following a magical night where the Toronto Maple Leafs embarrassed with Detroit Red Wings in a 6-2 laugher, the Leafs sent their B-Team — otherwise known as the Toronto Marlies — up against a weaker Wings squad and subsequently got their butts handed to them in a 5-1 loss.

The last battle in the training camp war between Connor Carrick, Justin Holl, and Calle Rosen concluded with an underwhelming performance from all three. Carrick looked like the more dynamic player of the three, but ended up under water in all shot and possession metrics. Rosen had the best advanced numbers of the group, but gave the puck away a lot, and in some dangerous places. Holl was pretty much middling in all categories, so not much to see there.

With preseason officially over, we expect the Leafs to make cuts on Sunday morning.

At forward, Josh Leivo might have earn himself another day on the island with William Nylander’s contract still to be signed.

It is likely only two of Carrick, Rosen, Holl, Andreas Borgman, and Martin Marincin will make the team on defense, unless the team decides to go with two extra forwards, in which case only one will make the team.

Finally, the back-up goaltending position should finally come to a close. Curtis McElhinney — who stopped only 32 of 37 in the loss tonight — will try to keep his position with Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard not so hot on his tails. No one has “won” a spot in my mind, so the decision will likely be a fight between Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock over who the coach feels most comfortable with, versus the smartest asset management decision argued by Dubas.

First Period

0-1

The Leafs — hereon after known as the Marlies — started on the back foot after Rich Clune took a goalie interference penalty four minutes into the game. The Marlies had trouble getting the puck out of the zone, and Villi Saarijarvi (a young, mobile defenseman who played in Mississauga) was able to capitalize with a shot from the point that got through the screen and past goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Fellow former-OHLer Givani Smith and not-Carolina’s-Svechnikov Evgeny Svechnikov picked up the assists.

The next stretch of play started to look good for the Marlies. Rosen was even able to draw a holding penalty on Luke Glendening. But, that’s where thing’s got worse.

0-2

Pierre Tugeon’s son Dominic Turgeon was able to get around Rosen using the nifty give-and-go with teammate Christoffer Ehn before slotting the puck past McElhinney for the goal.

Later in the period, other Svechnikov fell awkwardly into the end boards with Holl. The defenseman was able to skate away unharmed, but Svechnikov was only able to labour to the bench hunched over.

After One

The Marlies looked downright flat in the first period. They were able to get a handful of chances near the net of Jonathan Bernier — Oh, yeah. That guy! — but the Red Wings did a great job of clogging up the crease, giving those attempts no chance of going in. Apart from that, the Leafs were out-shot, and out-attempted pretty much all period.

In terms of players, I thought Carrick looked good. He looks fast and confident with the puck in his own zone, and the slower pace of play has allowed him to show a little better in transition. Unfortunately, his goose appears to be well and truly cooked regardless of this game.

Second Period

1-2

In the first minute of the period, the commentators were complaining that the young Marlies forwards consistantly blew the zone too early and didn’t give any support to their defensemen.

That immediately followed Vincent LoVerde feeding Carl Grundstrom with a beautiful two-line pass to send him and Adam Brooks away for a two-on-none breakaway. Grundstrom, Brooks, back to Grundstrom and the Marlies are back within one on the Red Wings of Grand Rapids.

Trevor Moore drew an interference penalty from Dylan McIlrath, who was cross-checking him away from the play. Away from the play, Rich Clune tried to bully Smith, but got the worst of it and was forced to leave the bench holding his hamstring.

I’ve really liked Moore for the better part of the calendar year, mostly because he’s a Golden Snitch when it comes to moving into and around the offensive zone and create havoc for the frustrated Seekers. Looking ahead to this year, if he can be more consistant offensively, and show for a full season his playmaking ability, he could become a Marlies graduate sometime in 2019.

1-3

Another shot from the point gets through McElhinney as Matt Puempel’s shot from the top of the slot found the top corner.

Pierre Engvall got loose for a breakaway, and nearly scored, if it wasn’t for a healthy slash from Libor Sulak that knocked the stick out from his hands. There was no call on the play, and it was allowed to run until Grundstrom got called for a hook. On the power play...

1-4

Right away, the Red Wings win the faceoff, and get the puck to power play specialist Martin Frk at the half-wall. He makes no mistake and gives the Wings a 4-1 lead.

With Sulak in the box for interfering with Engvall (for the second time), Carrick was able to spring Moore for a clear break. The kid tried to go five-hole, but Bernier sprawled and kept the puck from going across the goal line. Moore’s been another player that has impressed.

Along with the breakaway and a few good chances in and around the net, Moore has drawn two penalties for the Leafs. I may have been wrong regarding him making the team this year, but he sure as heck hasn’t been bad.

After Two

After a shaky start, McElhinney has settled into the net and stopped a fair number of breakaways, including two on Daren Helm.

At evens, the Marlies were able to out-attempt the Red Wings, and tie with them in terms of shots and goals scored. On the penalty kill however, the Wings are 2/2, while the Marlies are 0/5. Yikes.

Third Period

Rosen hasn’t looked that great in this game. He’s had trouble with the Wings’ forecheckers, and has given the puck away a few times in his own zone.

Moore once again showed his dynamism with a great shift with linemates Brooks and Gundstrom. Moore was able to create two zone entries, the latter of the two nearly turned into a goal when his short pass the Grundstrom across the blueline opened Brooks at the far end of the ice. That trio is young and fast, and should be able to put up lots of points in the AHL next year.

As the period rolls along, things start to get out of hand. It starts with an annoying hold on Brooks, then Emerson Clark and Smith start to have some discussions as they head to the bench, and culminates in McIlrath cross-checking the head of Josh Jooris while the Leafs depth center is down. McIlrath was able to get Jooris to go to the box with him after he dropped the gloves, forcing Jooris to do the same so that he doesn’t get physically assaulted. Just as the power play is about start, Moore takes an interference penalty while trying to stop a Red Wings penalty killer from clearing the zone. The two sides play some 4-on-4 before...

1-5

Sulak, finds the puck right as he gets out of the box, and capitalizes on the breakaway. As soon as play wants to start getting going again, Clark and Luke Witkowski get into a fight.

The following five minutes saw very little of the shorter Marlies. A decision made in conjunction with not wanting any of them to get pancaked at the end of a game that doesn’t matter. The Marlies spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, because why shouldn’t they, but didn’t score. At the end of the day, the preseason portion of training camp ended with a whimper.