Preseason Game Recap: Wings 2 - Leafs 1

The Red Wings ventured into the AAC, land of flung jerseys, to take on the Maple Leafs once more.

Petr Mrazek started tonight hoping to make his case for the number one goalie position in Detroit, opposite Jonathan Bernier, who has apparently won over Babcock for the same role in Toronto. We saw some not so exciting hockey for quite a while and finished it off with some 3-on-3 overtime.

First Period:

The first period started off with Michael Grabner doing what his name suggests, grabbing onto Kyle Quincey for holding penalty just ten seconds in. The Wings looked to take an early lead on the man advantage, but the Leafs were successful in killing it off. Tyler Bertuzzi had a bit of trouble getting the puck back into the Leafs zone, which eventually turned into a 2-on-1 for Toronto that also ended without consequence. Halfway through the period, Peter Holland threw a dangerous backhander at Mrazek from about 15 feet out that was was probably the game's best chance up to that point. Nick Jensen had a shot out from the blue line with Mitch Callahan standing in front of the net hoping to bang in a rebound, but Bernier stopped both the initial shot and Callahan's whack at his pads, which prompted some pushing and shoving with Kadri after the whistle.

The SportsNet broadcast gave us a phrase that I think pretty much summed up the first twenty minutes: "like watching a couple of guys fish". The Wings and Leafs had a lot of back and forth between them, but there were only 12 shots total and far fewer actual chances to speak of. Overall it was a boring period. Let's hope it gets better.

Score: 0-0
Shots: 7-5 TOR

Standout Players: No one was really spectacular this period.
Tough Period: Ferraro, Andersson, and Cleary seemed to spend more of their time in the defensive zone than any other Wings line.

Second Period:

Ferraro's not known for being a flat-out speedster, but man, watching Andersson and Cleary skate as slow as they did on the same shift early on here was just painful. The Leafs got their first power play of the game 3:06 in when Nick Jensen was called for a hold, and then we actually saw some action in this game. vanRiemsdyk was standing at the side of the net looking to curl the puck around past Mrazek, but Petr got his right pad out enough to stop what would have been a tough goal to swallow, even a man down.

Later on, Jensen had to cover for Lashoff when Lash got caught high, and Bertuzzi had to hustle back to help with the defense.

Callahan got knocked down on a dumb hit from behind by P.A. Parenteau. Luke Glendening immediately rushed in to defend his teammate, which was nice to see. Cally was fortunately no worse for wear, and Parenteau got a minor for boarding. We got to see Pulkkinen open like he should be on the power play but had a cross-ice pass from Miele broken up on the way through, which was too bad because I wanted to see what Babcock would have done had Pulkky scored there.

The scoreless tie was finally broken with 6:10 left when Roman Polak got caught flat-footed in the Wings zone, and the two-on-two of Athanasiou with Bertuzzi ended with Athanasiou splitting the Leafs' two to snap it past Bernier. It was the start of a lot of praise heaped upon the flashy forward by the broadcasters tonight, and AA continued to show why he's an exciting prospect for this team. With about a minute to go, vanRiemsdyk took a penalty for holding and it only took about 12 seconds for Athanasiou to feed the puck to Mantha for a post-ringing bar-down shot that ended up in the back of the net. I don't know how a Toronto PK ended up in a Detroit 3-on-1 and three Leafs chasing, but it was pretty funny to watch nonetheless.

Score: 2-0 Wings

Shots: 21-13 TOR

Standout Players: Mrazek, Athanasiou

Tough Period: No one? There was more action in these 20 minutes, but nobody was actually bad.

Athanasiou goal

Mantha goal

Third Period:

Can we start this one over? Leafs score just 22 seconds in to cut the Wings' lead to 2-1. Mrazek came out behind the net to get to the puck, but sent it up the boards where it was intercepted by a Leaf. A few seconds later, Brad Boyes got a shot in behind Mrazek that initially ricocheted off the post and out the other side of the crease, where Miele and Boyes both took a swipe at the puck. The puck ended up bouncing off the back of Mrazek's right pad and into the net.

Bertuzzi got flattened by Richard Panik on an attempted entry into the Leafs zone, and at the other end Holland was railed by Athanasiou, which set off a whole bunch of rough stuff. Athanasiou wrestled Panik down to the ice when Panik came to Holland's defense, and then Holland decided to pull Mantha into a little more open space before each threw a few punches, Mantha reluctantly so. Holland and Mantha got matching fighting majors while Panik and Bertuzzi got off-setting roughing minors, so play stayed at 5-on-5 while we hoped no one hurt themselves in a dumb preseason scrap.

Five minutes later, Cleary took a offensive zone penalty. Stop me if you've heard this one before. He loses body position on Morgan Reilly so he decides to take him down and obviously gets caught. I had a bad feeling about the ensuing PK, but the Wings proved me wrong and held the Leafs off the board. Joffrey Lupul rang a shot off the far post just as the penalty expired. The Leafs pressured late, trying to get the tying goal, and they got a little too close to doing so when Boyes goes to the net looking for a re-direction after Toronto pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. After a timeout by Babcock, the Leafs got another chance with Lupul right on top of Mrazek, but Petr snagged the puck out of the air. The horn sounded to end the game, and the Wings go officially undefeated in the preseason.

Score: 2-1 Wings

Shots: 29-15 TOR (total shot attempts were 72-26 TOR, by the way)

Standout Players: Mrazek, Athanasiou, Mantha (who had a Gordie Howe hat trick!)

Tough Period: Cleary


Hey, free hockey! While the score of the game was already determined, this was the last of the required 3-on-3 OT games for the Wings. Detroit started out with Mantha, AA, and Jensen, which shouldn't be a surprise as they were all having a good game tonight. Both Mantha and Jensen got shots in on Bernier, with the latter's being held for a whistle. Ferraro took a tumble deep in the Leafs zone, which is the kind of thing that can start a dangerous rush the other way with that amount of space. Pulkkinen took a long blast from the left circle and rang it off the post and out of play. Jurco had a nice defensive play on Kadri when Kadri tried to make a cute move. Time wound down and the OT period ended without a goal scored, but hey, we didn't have to go to a shootout because we already won the game.

Final Thoughts: We've got six (or five, depending on when you read this) more days before the regular season starts. So close. Hockey hug, anyone?