Friday, October 06, 2006

Game Recap: Leafs 6 - Senators 0

Wow, what a difference 24 hours can make. The Leafs decided to play with a little pride tonight, and boy did it show. Instead of playing hesitant, listless, lazy hockey, the Buds forechecked the Sens into the end of the rink, finished each and every check, and capitalized on their chances.

Simply put, that game might have been the worst beating that the Leafs have ever put on the Sens. Not that it is a huge game, being the second of the season, but this sets the tone in so many ways for the coming season. The Leafs went into their barn and made a statement that is sure to be heard loud and clear.

Raycroft played great and gets the shutout. Other Leaf forwards stepped up and carried the load. Only on D did the Leafs still struggle tonight, but their struggles were nothing compared to the Sens. Remember, this is a Sens squad missing two very solid players in Preissing and Corvo, and as the minutes started to mount, it really showed. Chris Phillips looked shell-shocked most of the game, and continued to look lost playing on his off-side. He does not seem comfortable playing the kind of minutes the Sens expect out of him (as of yet), it will be interesting to see if he can make the jump from a #3-4 guy to their prime defensive d-man behind Redden.

Apparently the search party put out by Sens coach Brian Murray and his staff were unable to locate Alfredsson before game-time. To me, he looks like he is holding back slightly, as if he may be protecting/nursing an injury.

The Good:

Almost every single forward to a man played a much better game, save for Sundin and Peca who simply continued their above average play from opening night. Wellwood, with four assists, showed the kind of puck wizardry that we haven't seen in Hogtown in years. Steen forechecked effectively and played a more physical game. Kilger and Tucker both decided to start their seasons this evening after the non-show on Wednesday night, and they both played solid games, contributing two goals apiece.

Raycroft made some great saves, and seemed very steady and sure. Even O'Neill played a decent game, with a few chances and some very effective shifts, hemming the puck in the Senators end for long stretches.

McCabe was marginally better and Kaberle marginally worse than their previous outing. The Woz played better (not hard to do) and White looked more sure of himself, making more than a few nice up-ice moves with the biscuit. However, it was Kubina who takes the honours tonight for best defenseman on the ice. He played solid D (to my mild surprise), taking efficient and direct lines to the puck and generally winning the battles. He didn't get much of an opportunity to flash his offensive credentials, but there were signs that he was more than capable of jumping up when the opportunity arises. Great first game for him in the Blue and White.

The Bad:

I hate to have anyone in this category when the Leafs win big against Ottawa, but Mr. Gill still needs to work on his game. Countless turnovers, including at least two right behind the Leaf net resulting in excellent chances for Ottawa. This guy needs to figure out how to eat the puck, because unless he can figure out how to properly clear it from his own zone, that is his only hope of playing sound D it would appear. Yikes man!

The Ugly:

C'mon, on a night when the Sens get pounded 6-0, do you think I would be such a kill-joy and list somebody in here?

Can't wait for the Habs on Saturday, as always this game should be a classic!

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