The Ottawa Senators (kinda) met the Toronto Maple Leafs (kinda) in the newly minted Canadian Tire Centre tonight. Hard to glean too much from a preseason game, but due to the fact that we are hockey starved, and that this game was nationally televised (funny to think about when you consider how few of the Senators regular season games are national games...), we'll still break this one down in all of it's glory.
The first period saw the Senators get a few chances on the man advantage, and gave the hometown fans a chance to look at the top PP unit. While they didn't put one in the net, they generated chances, and Patrick Wiercioch looked at home on the point with Erik Karlsson. One of the highlights from the first was Mika Zibanejad walking Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and getting a great chance on Jonathan Bernier. The Senators also opened the scoring when the big line went to work down low, and Bobby Ryan sent a beauty pass to young Swedish defenceman Frederik Claessen, who fired a rocket over Bernier.
The second period was... interesting. It is games like this where we are reminded that it is preseason for everyone. The referees made a rather strange call on a scrum with local legend Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the Leafs Nazem Kadri. Somehow the Leafs came out with powerplay, and Kadri (who some may argue should have been in the box), scored a real ugly goal on Craig Anderson. Before you could blink, the Leafs had struck again as Mason Raymond tipped home a JVR feed off the rush. Before the period was done, Patty W made one of his many beauty feeds and Andre Peterson fired a laser backhand off the post and in.
The final frame saw the Leafs score on an ugly scrum in front of the net after the Senators failed to score on numerous chances. Jason Spezza had a few great chances, Erik Karlsson had a good chance, and JGP got denied on a shorthanded breakaway. In the end, the Senators couldn't find an equalizer. Weird to lose a game they spent so long dominating, but that's how it goes sometimes, and we still got some solid individual performances.
It is a preseason game, so I'm not calling anyone a hero. But here are those players that stood out tonight.
Patrick Wiecioch: No surprise here. One assist and a handful of gorgeous set ups, Patty was springing guys all night long. Looking more confident than I ever remember seeing him, Wiercioch, for one game at least, looked more than capable of filling the shoes of the departed Sergei Gonchar. A late penalty did kill the chance of a comeback though.
Mika Zibanejad: As mentioned earlier he made a great play coming down on Dion Phaneuf and I have to say I noticed every time Mika was out there tonight. He made some great plays, and looked strong down low cycling the puck with Colin Greening.
"The Five": Spezza. Ryan. Michalek. Karlsson. Methot. Preseason game against sub-par competition, but this crew was dominating. It seemed unfair at times, the way they moved the puck and controlled the play. Any "chemistry" concerns, or concerns about players coming back from injury were likely put to rest tonight, even if they did try to force things a bit late in the game.
Andre Peterson: Is this the year? Bryan Murray has talked about how impressed he's been with Peterson at camp. His speed on the right side on the second line could be a huge asset. At the very least, he's gotta be one of the first call-ups. His ability to make plays at high speed, and that nasty shot, he turned heads tonight.
It IS Preseason After All:
Craig Anderson: His first appearance of the year was underwhelming, getting scored on with an ugly goal from Nazem Kadri. I'm not worried about the "Balding One", he'll be fine after a couple of appearances.
Chris Phillips: I don't hate on Chris like others do, but he's another guy who wasn't quite at his best tonight. He looked bad on the Raymond goal, but that happens.
On the Other Side:
Drew MacIntyre: The Senators had a crazy number of chances that McIntyre somehow kept out. He'll be the Leafs third goalie (I mean seriously, there are enough stories about the Leafs goaltending with two of them) but he played like an NHL goalie tonight.