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Pre-Season Game 3 Recap: Greasy Rat beats Ottawa 4-0

The Leafs gave all their depth a chance to stand out, and it was a little greasy rat that stole the show

NHL: MAY 03 Maple Leafs at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

My impression of seeing the Leafs’ lines going into this game was that Keefe is taking all of his potential depth options and AHLers and challenging them against most of the Sens’ likely NHL roster. All three of Sandin, Liljegren and Dermott will have to carry an AHL defenseman as a partner. They don’t get each other to save one another. Robertson is getting a chance with Kerfoot and Simmonds.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of Kaše in person, since I missed most of the last game. I’m not going to care about the score at all — I want to see how all of these maybes and lottery tickets the Leafs are pinning some of their hopes on for their NHL depth look in a challenging game.

PERIOD ONE

The game starts with nine full minutes of play without a single whistle. Not any great chances either side, and it’s pretty even in shot attempts and scoring chances. Leafs have a slight edge in both. This was the best chance of the game for either team so far:

After some mildly exciting back and forth for the next few minutes, the Leafs capitalize on a long shift in the Sense zone. A Dahlström shot from the point is blocked, but lands right on Kämpf’s stick and he snuck one through the Sens goalie.

David Kämpf has been... our offensive standout? Just as he’s been advertised.

First Period Thoughts

Mrazek was solid. Made the few saves on good chances that he needed to. More of that, please.

Kämpf had a goal and a good scoring chance. He will not be carrying us offensively by any means, but with someone like Kaše on his line to drive play while he does the defensive heavy lifting, he might get some offensive chances and suck at converting on them like Ilya Mikheyev!

The three of Sandin, Liljegren and Dermott looked solid. Nothing flashy offensively, making good defensive plays when they needed to.

Josh Ho-Sang looked better in this game to me. Faster, more dynamic with the puck, he was flying on a couple of shifts but also making smart plays instead of forcing anything. I do thing he’ll get a contract of some kind, from the Leafs/Marlies or another team. He looks like he belongs.

His line with Greasy Rat and Semyonov has looked strong. That could be an NHL-calibre depth line on a meh to lower tier team.

Nikita Gusev on the other hand... I don’t see it. He has yet to have any noticeable offensive impact, and one of the best chances Ottawa had in that period was after he got pyloned in the defensive zone.

Robertson has looked like can hang around in the NHL right now and be perfectly boring. But the Leafs have those in spades, and we want him to be more than that. He’ll go to the AHL and will hopefully get better, older and more dominant.

PERIOD TWO

Leafs finish killing a penalty, and go onto a short powerplay of their own. So far this game I have noticed Josh Ho Sang the most. He is flying out there, and created two good scoring chances, like this one:

Leafs go back to the penalty kill, but a nice pick off by Robertson led to a 2 on 1 chance with Semyonov. Leafs kill it off but go on the penalty kill again, but when at even strength they are largely controlling the game.

Leafs finally get their first full powerplay of the game after one of those new crosschecking penalties gets called. And they get the goal! Kaše freed the puck from a scrum on the boards and finds Ho Sang, who loses it temporarily but finds Greasy Rat alone in front for a sort of half-deflection half-shot goal.

Leafs get another powerplay after, and guess who! Greasy Rat scores on a pretty high tier tip off a Sandin point shot. Maybe, just maybe, this Greasy Rat kid may just be legit.

Second Period Thoughts

Greasy Rat has looked excellent. In the first he didn’t have a lot of chances but he was forechecking hard, freeing up pucks to keep plays alive, and looking like a menace in the offensive zone. In the second he showed off his classic goals: go to the net, tip point shots and shovel in pucks in the slot. And we had a lovely moment of Kurtis Gabriel coming back from the hallway to interrupt his interview with TSN to say “you’re a greasy rat, bud!”

And now you understand the rest of this recap up to this point.

Ho Sang is having a much better game by far. I think he can and should get a two-way NHL but start the season in the AHL for some seasoning. He could be a real NHLer if injuries/poor performances open a spot for him.

Kaše has not been eye-popping, but he’s been very effective on that line with Kämpf.

I am starting to quietly appreciate Semyonov. In terms of meaningless stats, he entered this game leading the NHL in pre-season CF% and xGF% — after one game and just over 10 minutes of ice time. But he’s followed that up with another quietly good night, with 83% in shot attempts and 81% in expected goal share. Both are low event, relatively, but there’s been a lot of powerplays to go around again.

PERIOD THREE

The third period opens and it’s starting to get chippy. First, Greasy Rat was doing lovely Greasy Rat things.

Then, Simmonds took a pretty stupid penalty that sent the Leafs back to the PK. If there’s one good thing that Robertson has done in this game, it’s kill penalties. He’s been great at reading the Sens’ entry attempts when they try passing across the ice, and picking them off for a rush the other way. Did it twice this game, and I remember him doing it in his other game this pre-season as well.

Greasy Rat is fun. I am liking him more and more.

Heck, even a pre-destined AHLer like Kràl has been making plays against a pretty lacklustre Sens team. He’s had a sneaky good game too.

Gusev had a bright spot in the third with this great set up for Simmonds.

HATS OFF TO YOU, GREASY RAT!

Third Period Thoughts

This was a good effort by the Leafs’ B-squad. They by far did not ice their best roster for this game, on the road, against the Senators’ mostly-NHL-calibre-lineup. And they were fairly dominant. The guys that stood out the most are all the players the Leafs probably hoped would stand out for the holes in their lineup: Kaše, Ho Sang, and of course the Greasy Rat himself.

I can see Greasy Rat providing the hard skating, hard effort, hard forechecking role that Hyman did in the top six. But I can also see Kerfoot, or Kaše fill in as well. Ritchie... maybe not, but he hasn’t had his chance at a second game to stand out more like the others in this game did.

Mrazek had a perfect game, shutting out the Sens on 19 shots against. So not a busy game for him by any means, but he made some good saves when he had to.

The other thing I take from this is that the Marlies should have a much better team. They’ll be getting some good players to fill out the roster around their young, quality prospects.

Otherwise, I don’t take too much from this. It’s already getting to the point of the pre-season when I don’t want to see much more of a half-NHL half-AHL roster. Maybe one more of these and I’ll be ready for the season to start.

Shootout Thoughts

I can confirm, they had a practice shootout.

Poll

Who impressed you the most this game?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Bunting
    (476 votes)
  • 19%
    Ho Sang
    (122 votes)
  • 1%
    Kaše
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    Kämpf
    (29 votes)
639 votes total Vote Now