02/23/2024

BUF:

2

CBJ:

1

Final

WPG:

3

CHI:

2

Final

MIN:

4

EDM:

2

Final

02/24/2024

STL:

1

DET:

6

Final

MTL:

3

NJD:

4

Final

TBL:

4

NYI:

2

Final

NYR:

2

PHI:

1

Final

WSH:

2

FLA:

3

Final

TOR:

4

COL:

3

Final

VGK:

3

OTT:

4

Final

BOS:

2

VAN:

3

Final

DAL:

2

CAR:

1

Final

CGY:

6

EDM:

3

Final

MIN:

5

SEA:

2

Final

NSH:

4

SJS:

2

Final

ANA:

2

LAK:

3

Final

02/25/2024

TBL:

4

NJD:

1

Final

PHI:

6

PIT:

7

Final

CAR:

2

BUF:

3

Final

NYR:

2

CBJ:

4

Final

DET:

3

CHI:

2

Final

ARI:

3

WPG:

4

Final

NSH:

4

ANA:

2

Final

02/26/2024

OTT:

3

WSH:

6

Final

NYI:

3

DAL:

2

Final

LAK:

2

EDM:

4

Final

BOS:

3

SEA:

4

Final

02/27/2024

WSH:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

MTL:

0

07:00 ET

TBL:

0

PHI:

0

07:00 ET

VGK:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

MIN:

0

08:00 ET

OTT:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

STL:

0

WPG:

0

08:00 ET

LAK:

0

CGY:

0

09:00 ET

DAL:

0

COL:

0

09:30 ET

PIT:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

NJD:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

02/28/2024

CBJ:

0

NYR:

0

07:00 ET

STL:

0

EDM:

0

08:30 ET

02/29/2024

VGK:

0

BOS:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

CBJ:

0

07:00 ET

NYI:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

MTL:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

TBL:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

WPG:

0

DAL:

0

08:00 ET

MIN:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

COL:

0

CHI:

0

09:00 ET

PIT:

0

SEA:

0

10:00 ET

LAK:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

ANA:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

Leafs Drop Two Against Senators, Look For Their First Pre-season Win in Buffalo

The Leafs opened up their preseason meetings with a game in Ottawa against the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday and return home to Scotiabank Arena to face the Sens in Toronto on Monday.

Since neither effort proved successful for the Leafs, with the club losing both of the home and home, back-to-back games, they are certainly looking for a bounce-back performance when playing their next preseason contest against Buffalo.

The first of the two-game series featured William Nylander with Max Domi and Matthew Knies. As for regulars in the forward group, Sam Lafferty also dressed.

On the back end were Morgan Rielly, Timothy Liljegren, and Connor Timmins. 

Mixed in was a group of prospects from Juniors and the AHL.

Nylander and Domi looked to have some immediate chemistry, and Matthew Knies was excellent at doing what we all expect from him in battling for space and digging pucks out of battles. 

Morgan Rielly was his regular-season self and not the post-season juggernaut we saw in the spring.

Timmins picked up two assists, continuing a trend we saw when he started playing games for Toronto in the spring. 

Alex Steeves had an absolute snipe from the top of the circles, and I would love to see him play more games with the Leafs this season. My concern with his goal, however, is he had a lot of time to dust the puck off, and I’m not sure he sees that much space once the ice is full of NHL-caliber players.

Goal scorers from game one for the Leafs:

William Lagesson

Alex Steeves 

The Senators dressed what is expected to be their top line for this game, and Toronto played without three of the “Core 4”. I’m not taking too much away from that one.

The second matchup, on Monday, featured a top line of Matthews, Marner, and Bertuzzi, something we have all been dying to see since the Leafs acquisition of Bertuzzi during the summer. 

The second contest also had John Klingberg quarterbacking the top powerplay unit.

Other notable players in game two:

Noah Gregor 

Pontus Holmberg

David Kampf

Ryan Reaves 

Nick Robertson

My takeaways from that game are:

Bertuzzi is going to be so great on that top line. He is as creative as playmakers come, and his work kept the Leafs in possession in many cases where I thought they would lose it.

John Klingberg was decent but not great. He moved the puck pretty well, but I heard “Klingberg caught up the ice” a few more times than I wish I did. Something we all had better get used to. He does have the willingness to shoot the puck, though, and we saw that pay off in the overtime, leading to the game-tying goal of game two.

Toronto went down two early and never really got a hold of the game, even though Mitch Marner forced overtime with his powerplay game-tying rebound goal in the dying seconds of the third off of a John Klingberg shot.

Easton Cowen earned a penalty shot early in the game but failed to convert; he did, however, find the back of the net on a slick passing play on the powerplay. He looks like a dog on a bone, who reminds me a lot of Zach Hyman, without the size or strength. He looks like a great pick from the 2023 draft, and it’s a damn shame he’s gonna have to go back to Junior this year if he doesn’t make the big club. I think he would fit in well as a Marlie.

Goal scorers from game two for the Leafs:

Easton Cowen 

Joseph Blandisi 

Mitch Marner

The next preseason game for the buds is at home against Buffalo on Wednesday at 7 pm ET, and then they play the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal on Friday and Saturday (ahh hockey night in Canada is back)  

Here are three things I expect to see in the next two games.

More of the same

I’m positive Sheldon Keefe will want to leave Nylander and Domi together and The Matthews line together to see if more chemistry can be built. We may see a change in the third player to play with Willy and Max. The looks the Matthews line had certainly warrants another look; they are so exciting to watch.

I’d also expect to still see a steady mix of AHLers and Junior guys in the next couple of games, to take a look at some guys who are on the fringe of both the Leafs and Marlies and see how guys look against real competition.  

Return of the Captain

John Tavares hasn’t played in either preseason game, and he is going to need reps to get up to speed, just like the rest of the group. I would assume he will dress against Buffalo.

We also haven’t seen Samsonov, and he may not dress in Buffalo, but the 26-year-old netminder is sure to assume the crease over the weekend against the Habs at some point.

A Win

While we understand these games don’t matter much (or at all, really), and the preseason is about finding timing, learning systems, and creating chemistry between linemates, I guarantee you the players want a win just as bad as us fans do. 

They have so much talent on both squads, with the kids looking in form, and they play on Saturday against Montreal, a team looking to find their footing and place in the Atlantic division. I think if they somehow can’t find a way against Buffalo, we should see Toronto pick up their first preseason win by the weekend. 

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