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Recap: Maple Leafs lose to the Senators in preseason game one

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You’ll never guess who I think was the Leafs best player.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Hockey is back! Or something slightly resembling hockey, at any rate. The Senators sent a very thin lineup out to St. John’s for this game, but they did include Josh Norris, son of Newfoundlander Dwayne Norris, to claim the hometown credit. The Sens also have former St. John’s Maple Leafs player D.J. Smith behind the bench, while we can counter with Newfoundland Growlers player Hudson Elynuik, but he’s not going to be playing tonight, it seems.

The lines from this morning are:

24 Kapanen - 91 Tavares - 16 Marner
47 Engvall - 19 Spezza - 42 Moore
36 Marchment - 77 Brooks - 29 Bracco
41 Timashov - 33 Gauthier - 96 Korshkov
53 Baptiste, 76 Elynuik

8 Muzzin - 94 Barrie
52 Marincin - 2 Schmaltz
25 Gravel - 3 Holl
54 Duszak - 57 Lindgren

31 Andersen
50 Kaskisuo

And now let’s play a game for the fans in St. John’s.

First Period

The Leafs, they start with the Kapanen-Tavares-Marner line along with Muzzin-Barrie as the pairing. We’re expecting Freddie Andersen to play two periods.

Marner digs a puck out of a corner battle right off the bat, and Tavares set up Muzzin for a point shot that was gloved. I’d say Mitchy looks like he is trying to prove something.

Off the ensuing draw, Tavares coughs up a puck at the blueline and Anthony Duclair got in on a break. He made a nice move, but Andersen made a pretty great pad save.

Right off the NEXT faceoff, Frederik Gauthier got a breakaway of his own but was stopped by Nilsson. Some sloppy but fun hockey to start.

Yeah, okay, saw that coming, Maxime LaJoie, the guy who slammed Brooks good a minute ago, snakes one past Freddie. And we know Jason Spezza is meant to be a Leaf, because he failed to clear the puck and then screened Freddie on the shot.

Kappy takes a penalty, which is good, the Leafs will get a makeup power play out of that easier than actually drawing one, so we get to see some PK.

This is a very Marlies PK crew, so there’s not much to learn. It’s interesting, at least, to see Trevor Moore out there. But that’s all that’s interesting.

Post power play, the game is creeping up in speed, and might form up into something worth watching by the second period.

Egor (you ain’t cool if you spell it with a Y) Korshkov vs Erik Brannstrom in the Leafs zone corner, and the decision goes to Brannstrom with the finesse over Korshkov’s size. The Sens clear the zone nice and easy.

They showed Brandon Pridham up in the very not luxurious box at Mile One. “You might not know the face,” Gord Miller says. Gord, come on, he’s my hero.

Spezza just weakly smushed the puck to no one, and the Sens easily walked off with it. He is not really impressing out of the gate, to say the least. Is that Nick Shore’s music we hear after all?

Spezza gets a scoring chance, and the Sens take a hooking call.

Korshkov is playing net-front on this power play, and Tavares is in the middle, taking Kadri’s spot. Ray Ferraro is of the opinion that with the new man in charge of the power play, that position will involve shooting, not passing, so this change now makes sense to me.

The Leafs have a lot of trouble getting set up, which isn’t a surprise, really. Ray was more informative than actually watching what they did on the ice, as they had no shots on goal at all.

The Sens get a few shots on Andersen in the final seconds, but this one finishes 1-0 for the bad guys.

Thoughts

That was a preseason game, all right.

Second Period

Freddie with a shot! No, not Andersen, Gauthier with another nice chance.

Spezza gets a chance, and Nilsson gets a penalty for knocking the net off. Total cheeseball of a call, this isn’t an NHL rink, and that’s not a penalty. Oh, well, it’s PK practice for the Belleville Sens.

Much better setup by the Leafs on the power play this time. Nice long shot by Barrie and Nilsson makes a save when Korshkov moves a bit.

Okaaaay. The second unit is not very good, but Spezza dangles, and Mason Marchment, playing net-front can’t find the puck. I promise you all, the Marlies are usually better than this.

The first unit is back out, and there’s another great shot from Barrie, and this time Korshkov stays parked in front of the net, and he ends up in some sweater pulling. Paul McFarland had talked to Korshkov in the little break where the first unit was off. He likely didn’t understand much, but he also likely already knew what he’d done wrong.

Goat! Another great shot. Maybe Gauthier wants his old job back. Maybe he can convince Babcock to keep him.

I liked Jeremy Bracco a lot on the power play too, and now Trevor Moore looks like the man we all love moving around out there the way he should.

Whoa, Duclair manned up the ice with two Leafs trying to stop him. Freddie has it, though.

Oh! Hardev will like that. A nice crisp Pierre Engvall and Spezza passing play. Leafs are looking much better.

Martin Marincin just passed the puck out from behind the Leafs net to no one. MarMar, what are you thinking?

Gauthier with the puck again, and if he was 100% more assertive offensively last year than he ever had been, he’s upped that some more tonight. He still never knows what to do with the puck really, though.

Jordan Schmaltz goes off for knocking a bad guy down, so it’s PK practice.

Muzzin to Marner to Kappy with a bit of a shorty chance. I do love the way they kill penalties.

Trevor Moore is out on the PK again and he goes off paired up with Erik Brannstrom, who is incredulous he just got done for embellishment. He’s not a very good actor, and he looks like Prince Joffrey, give him five.

Gauthier on the PK too, and he’s a master at it in the AHL, but never got a look in the NHL.

Freddie (Andersen this time) is the key to the PK though, and he makes a nice stop. He’s on form tonight.

Gauthier just, uh, bulled his way into the zone, and that there is a zone entry. No kidding. He’s been great. I promise if he makes the NHL and contributes for real, which he did not last year, I will write the “I was Wrong” article.

Ooooh. Brooks with another nice play too.

The Leafs are finding their feet, and moving the puck, but I’ve not seen a really good scoring chance from a guy with better hands than the Goat.

Thoughts

I am less concerned about Paul McFarland and his effect on the power play than I have ever been. You will take Trevor Moore’s roster spot away from his cold dead hands. Gauthier will go down swinging, but I don’t think he’s going to best Spezza. Spezza was way, way better in the second than the first.

Still 1-0 bad guys.

Third Period

Both teams change goalies, and we’re off for 20 more minutes.

Another Goat shot on goal.

Whooeee, that was real Mitch Marner there, but he got a post.

Schmaltz zips in, keeps the play alive, and Marner sets up Kappy for a goal.

Tie Game!!!

Korshkov hits a guy hard into the corner. He is generally a really clean hitter, but he is also a really big hitter.

JT with a nice dangle on J-G Pageau. The crowd loves it, and St. John’s? You’re a hell of a hockey town. Great crowd tonight. Great atmosphere.

Oh, there’s a hint of things to come. Barrie with the quick stop, pivot and pass to spring a transition from below his own goal line.

You know, there is a tiny, tiny gap in quality between the top five guys on the Leafs and everyone else.

Oh, nice Marlies cycle there, Korshkov, Timashov all of them cooking. Our old friend Jack Rodewald took a puck off of the face area, but it looks like the shield saved him.

Duclair on a break, and Kapanen can keep up to him when few can. He stops him without taking a penalty.

Marner gives the puck away right in front of Kasimir Kaskisuo to a 28-year-old PTO guy from the Swiss league, and that puck ends up in the net. Everyone in blue was bad on that goal, and it’s 2-1 bad guys. (On their second shot of the period.)

Sens get a puck over glass penalty under pressure from Korshkov, and it’s back to the power play for the Leafs.

Duclair has a good PK going and delays the Leafs set up, but they get there.

The Marlies PP unit looks much better this time, but no shots come of it.

You can tell Marner did a dumb thing earlier, he’s all Zach Hyman level intense on the puck right now.

Schmaltz seems very okay to me so far. He isn’t wince-inducing anyway. So good start for him in earning a job.

Ohhhh, man. Marchment lets loose a long bomb, and no one can deflect it. The Sens goalie Marcus Hogberg has been good. The Leafs have owned the ice in the second half (that’s eye-test Corsi) but they can’t score on this guy.

And Duclair scores on the empty Leafs net to seal the defeat to the B-Sens and ensure that radio hosts will have something to talk about tomorrow.

3-1 Sens

Final Thoughts

Best players: Freddie (both flavours) for the Leafs and Duclair for the Sens.

This new power play needs work! Good thing they have a lot of time yet.

I had every technical problem you can have tonight, and Brigstew actually wrote the first part of this, so shout out to him, and to Omar for the gifs. I feel like this was not my best recap ever, but I promise, coach, I’ll get better.

Next game is tomorrow night in Ottawa, and we’ll have lines up when we know them.