By The Meatriarchy
Despite the outcome I quite enjoyed this game (well I saw the last two periods a power outage in my neck of the woods had me eating dinner with the family at a local restaurant that didn't have the game on). But that might be because it was an exhibition game - you can watch one of those with a little less emotional attachment than a game that actually means something.
The post game scrum around Mikael Tellqvist was telling, the reporters and the now embattled Leaf backup seemed resigned to the fact that he has probably played his last game in a Leaf uniform. Mikael expressed a hope that a decision would be made soon as it is hard on both him and his fiancee not knowing what is happening.
For what its worth he played a decent game and made some fantastic saves. I think he has played his best hockey as a Leaf during this camp. However it might have come too little too late. Not all the goals were his fault but a few clearly were. Telly's problem is that sometimes he throws himself into a save so hard that he keeps sliding and ends up way out of position. That happened on at least one occasion last night.
On the plus side several Leafs had good games in cluding Alexander Suglobov and Matt Stajan. Bates Battaglia and Brad Brown continue to make Paul Maurice's final cuts challenging. Brown however might have an inside track considering how decimated the Leaf's defense core.
Outside the top four White and Wozniewski both seem to be strong contenders with Brown and Jay Harrison also in the mix. Of course the return of Colaiacovo could complicate matters. However after missing most of training camp I expect him to have a conditioning stint in the minors.
Battaglia might have a tougher time cracking a mostly set forward group made even more difficult by the play of Suglobov. Last night he scored a seeing eye goal and generated plenty of excitement but he was trying to be a little too fancy sometimes with the puck. However watching him play last night a thought occurred: could he be the replacement for Alexander Mogilny that the Leafs have been looking for? Granted he could never touch Mogilny in his prime but the Mogilny that played for the Leafs was not the Mogilny who played for Buffalo or even Vancouver. But Suglobov is creative enough and has a goal scorers touch to warrant consideration on Matt's right side. He is 2 inches and 20 pounds bigger than Kyle Wellwood and he is a natural winger. Wellwood is much better at center and was getting creamed along the boards in the games that he played on the wing. Small wonder that he is out with an injury already. He is not suited to the wing, he should be playing center.
Speaking of Sundin the Captain had 5 shots last night but generally looked like he didn't break a sweat. Ditto some of the other veterans like McCabe. And where was Jeff O'Neal. It was the third period before I realized that he was even playing. Did he show up late?
Hal Gill should take some fighting lessons. Rule number one: A taller guy cannot wrestle a shorter strong guy to the ground - the leverage isn't there. Also a taller guy is at a disadvantage in a fight if he allows the shorter person to stay in range. Gill should learn to hold a guy at arms length and then hit him. Chris Neil seemed to be holding back in this one. He could have landed an uppercut at any time and dropped Gill. But he probably didn't want Hal to fall on him.
Mike Fisher was by far the best player on the ice for either team and was well deserving of the first star.
Next up a home and home against our former Norris Division rivals the Detroit Red Wings. The real show begins after that and games like this will be a lot less enjoyable if the outcome is a loss.