Tonight, the Detroit Red Wings trounced the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 in what could better be called a dress rehearsal for the regular season than simply a preseason game. The Wings dressed almost a complete NHL roster while the Leafs did the same as the end of the games that don't count draw near. Of course, the thing to remember is that the near-complete NHL roster the Wings played against still belonged to Toronto, so here's a big grain of salt to take with... awww hell, nevermind. I'm freakin' happy. The Maple Leafs always play the Wings tough and it was good to see this end result in a game that was fun to watch from start to finish, a stark contrast from the snoozefest 5-1 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday.
Overall, the pace of tonight's game was very good, as rushes up ice were quick and passes were crisp. There's not much to about which to complain when your team scores four power play goals. Join us after the jump for the thoughts.
- First off, I'll go off the early buzz created by Jakub Kindl's goal in the first (technically a PP goal as a 4-on-4 situation had just expired). Kindl played the puck off the boards as a drop pass to Franzen and then went to the wide-open middle to receive the pass in the slot to pot one home. This was just the best of a series of impressive plays by the young D-Man, who showed tons of confidence out there next to Lidstrom for long stretches. So, I might as well handle all the speculation and talk early. I'd just like to bring a bit of realism to all the talk that Kindl should be playing in the #6 defensive spot over Jonathan Ericsson. What those of you who support Kindl might not have fully realized about it yet is that you're abso-damn-lutely right. Kindl was fantastic.
- Now let's get to what I call a "worry sandwich." I started with Kindl's good piece, so I have to share this. I'm worried about Kronwall's knee. He scored a goal, but was just about outplayed by his defensive partner Brian Lashoff. He did not look interested in any kind of contact. We all know Kronwall's a stud and, for the billionth time (shut up, mom! They know I don't mean that literally!), this is only the preseason. Still, I hope he's ready to go full-speed next Friday.
- Ok, back on the positives - The Circus line of Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom was once again amazing. I counted three Datsyuk-giggle moments (which should be an official stat). The first was a blind backhanded shovel pass in the first period to a streaking Zetterberg (calm down, ladies, he was clothed, just going really fast). Z then made a clever pass to Holmstrom who very nearly scored. Trying to gameplan against this line has got to look like Duck Dodgers' route to Planet X in the 24th-and-a-half century.
- The good didn't stop at the top though. Ritola played an excellent game filling in for the injured Bertuzzi as the Filppula-Franzen pair showed their great chemistry and dominated on a majority of their shifts. In case that's STILL not enough to get you excited, the third line of Hudler-Modano-Cleary was also excellent. Hudler scored two goals to shut me up about how comfortable he looked. As much as he didn't quite fit in during previous games, he was the commander of the dance floor as he moved in and out of shooting lanes and made people chase him all over the ice. I might start calling him Benny Hill.
- For the Leafs, the three goals they scored were actually quite impressive, showcasing some very good passing. Their first line will be good this season when they develop their chemistry fully. Still, I don't care about the Leafs. Dion Phaneuf looks vaguely like the bad guys from 'The Dark Crystal' and every time he's on the ice I'm rooting for irritable bowel syndrome.
- Stuart looked good on the other side of the ice paired with Rafalski. He's a quick learner as he should be; his head is huge.
Thomas McCollum had a very good night positioning-wise. The game could have been closer if not for some key saves. He squared up to shooters extremely well and even showed some glove-side swagger a couple of times.
- Enjoy tonight as much as you can, because I have a feeling tomorrow night in the Air Canada Centre is going to be very different. That will be the Leafs' last preseason game and Babcock will be resting plenty of guys. I'm not expecting a loss though; it is still the Leafs. Maybe this one we only win by two?
We'll see you tomorrow as we turn around and do it again.