Finally a hockey game where I don’t have multiple horses in the race! The World cup is fun and all, but we have players everywhere there, and it’s hard to keep track of who I’m cheering for and when. The itty bitty wee Leafs rookies (because we drafted small hurr hurr) were all over the ice, and the Sens, from the opening whistle.
With Kasimir Kaskisuo not tested much in the opening period, the Leafs proved the old adage represented in the title, speed kills. The young guys are skilled, but it was speed on the forcheck and crisp passing that opened the Sens wide. Marner looked fantastic, and had a spectacular give and go mid period with Colin Smith and Tobias Lindberg. But the lone goal of the period went to Trevor Moore, thanks to a spectacular backhanded cross-ice pass from Dmytro Timashov. To close out the period, Tobias Lindberg was shoved into Matt O’Connor in the Ottawa net and, predictably, received a penalty for being shoved. O’Connor was roughed up, and while he closed out the period, was replaced by Chris Driedger in the second.
If the 1st period was a display of all out speed, the 2nd was a display of speed in waves. The baby Leafs were quick to fall back when losing the puck. They would then get between the Ottawa defender and the forward he was in the middle of passing it to, chip it back towards the Sens end, and attack again. Relentlessly. There was one small blip where the Leafs iced it and Mitch Marner couldn’t get off the ice for about 2 minutes, but he showed a lot of poise and didn’t allow himself to get caught flat-footed for a penalty. The Leafs should have added to the lead, as Tye Felhaber had a breakaway off a beaut of a backhand pass from J.J. Piccinich, but Driedger kept the Sens in it, weathering the storm.
In the third, it was the absence of speed from the Leafs that killed them. As the Senators usually do at this tournament, they started running around. Dunn crushed a defender to the Boards, then ran over Kaskisuo with no call, before the Leafs got a break in the form of Valiev’s stick… breaking, on Dunn’s tap of it. The powerplay looked good but couldn’t connect, and then the Sens struck on their 15th shot of the night. The rest of the period was uneventful, with the Sens opting to kill the last 13 seconds behind their net.
Overtime was speed personified. Back and forth play with both goalies standing on their heads. Sheldon Keefe made what looked like an odd move. He put 3 forwards in Timashov, Marner, and Smith out on the 3 on 3 in lieu of a defenceman. The Sens broke in with a man alone in front, and it looked like it might be over. BUT THEN MITCH MARNER WITH THE JETS! Marner got back in the nick of time to smack the puck off the Sen stick and out to the near blue line, Colin Smith grabbed it from there and took off. He beat his man outside towards the net and put it home past Driedger. Leafs win 2-1. Can’t find the final shot count so: Leafs a lot, Sens less than a lot.
Trevor Moore had good finish on a Timashov pass for the first of the night and was buzzing all night.
Mason Marchment in the 1st period was all over the puck, fighting for every inch of the ice. He let off after the 1st however, and it remains to be seen if that’s an effort level he can maintain through all 3 frames
Rinat Valiev was sharp both offensively and defensively, making crisp passes and breaking up plays.
Nicolas Mattinen had fantastic gap control, didn’t make any glaring mistakes, and kept himself in position well. It will be interesting to see how he does for the London Knights this year.
Colin Smith was involved in that 1st period back and forth with Marner and Lindberg, and of course scored the game winning goal in overtime. That whole line showed great chemistry all night.
Dmytro Timashov had some slick passes and did something with the puck on every shift.
Nicklas Brouillard showcased a heavy shot, and was solid on the line similar to Valiev.
Mitch Marner was everywhere, involved physically, and made plays along all 200 feet of ice surface. As an aside, Marner showed a very similar instinct to Matthews away from puck, as he was always getting to where the puck was going to be before it could get there.
Tobias Lindberg provided a good physical presence on the line with Marner and Smith