The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up the 2016 season by taking on the Ottawa Senators this evening at the Budweiser Gardens. The game took place on the ice that Mitch Marner has called home for the last three years, while playing with the London Knights.
In front of a sparse crowd on this Friday evening, the Leafs came out of the gate flying. On the second shift of the game, Marner got in alone for an excellent one-time shot from just above the right circle. The shot was labelled for the far side of the net but the Sens Goalie (Matt O’Connor) made an excellent save as he turned the shot away from harm.
While having a decent game at both ends of the ice, Marner looked to be forcing plays at times and not relying on making the simple pass which would have been more effective. Look for #16 (his new jersey number) to have a better game versus Montreal on Saturday evening, if he in fact plays back to back tilts.
In between the pipes for the Marlies, was Kasimir Kaskisuo. The Native of Espoo, Finland looked impressive in his positioning, rebound control and making the big save when he was tested. Kaskisuo will be in tough as he tries to usurp both Antoine Bibeau and Garett Sparks for playing time in the Marlies net this fall but as he said post game “When you start concerning yourself with what others are doing, you lose focus on your own game and it suffers”. Really hope he can battle his way into contention for some starts at the Ricoh this year.
I will pick two players who stood out the most to me. Defenseman, Rinat Valiev and Forward Trevor Moore.
Valiev played an excellent game, and on one shift controlled the entire sequence in the offensive zone, narrowly missing a golden opportunity to score, and then managed to work his way back into his own zone and thwart a chance on his own net. That is the type of game Valiev needs to show the Toronto Management team, if he wishes to play at the ACC this year, as opposed to the Horse Palace at the Exhibition grounds.
Up front Dmytro Timashov looked good at times, making passes that were absolutely spot on contributing an apple from along the boards on the opening goal by Trevor Moore. Moore, played an excellent game and seemed to be all over the ice this evening, in a good way. The native of Thousand Oaks, California was signed by the Leafs to a 3 year entry level contract back in June of 2016.
At 20 years old, Moore stands in at 5’10 and 175 pounds. Not the largest frame on the ice, his use of speed and playing a positionally sound game which is exactly what had him score back to back 44 point seasons in the NCAA with the University of Denver.
OT Winner was scored by Colin Smith on an unassisted (but helped by Marner as it cleared the zone) tally during 3 on 3 play. Smith sniped a beauty passed Chris Driedger with little time left in the contest. A big win for the Blue and White as a winning attitude starts will the little victories.
The Leafs are right back at it, tomorrow evening when they face the hated rivals from Montreal at 7pm. Game Day skate goes at 11:30am.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have….
Live from the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown London.