Leafs outscore Senators for a victory in Kanata in front of a fairly large gathering on Thursday night.
Nazem Kadri had another nifty goal and David Bolland scored the winner (just like he did seemingly many moons ago on a fateful night in Boston, known forever as the travesty in beantown), and the Leafs improved their pre-season form, edging the Senators, 3-2.
It is hard to tell just which Leafs will make the cut, that were not previously with the team back in May. There have been a couple additions that are making their mark on this team as we speak. One of them is former Canuck Mason Raymond.
Raymond is obviously an established NHL player, whom some describe as having “world-class wheels”, meaning that he can skate.
He has found himself in Toronto by way of a PTO (professional tryout). Considering that the Leafs have parted with Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Matt Frattin, there could be room on the roster for someone with Raymond’s ‘wheels’.
He scored a beautiful breakaway goal against the Flyer this past week, and had another sweet goal last night at Kanata.
Nazem Kadri and David Bolland had the other two goals and thanks to some nice defensive work late in the game, Drew MacIntyre was able to get a win under his belt. I think that if Jonathan Bernier was not as good as it does seem like he is, MacIntyre would be the back-up guy to James Reimer.
Raymond appears to be fighting (not literally) Carter Ashton for the job of third-line winger in Toronto; he seems, at least for now, that he has the upper hand.
Both were given plenty of ice time last night in Ottawa.
“It’s different. . . . You’ve got to make the most of it,” Raymond said. “As far as I’m concerned, every year you’re trying out whether you’ve got a contract or not. . . . You learn quickly you’ve got to go out there and earn your spot every night.”
Two nights into his pre-season, Raymond is backing up that sentiment with bursts of blurring acceleration. GM Dave Nonis has vowed to do the necessary salary-cap manoeuvring to keep Raymond around should he be deemed worthy of a job, but there’s an ever-growing feeling of inevitability to his inclusion in the opening-night lineup.
As Carlyle said of Raymond earlier in camp: “We feel very fortunate to have him here.”
On Thursday night it became clearer that they’ll be missing something vital if they don’t keep him here.
The game was the pre-season home opener for the Senators, who were playing at the arena currently known as the Canadian Tire Centre (and formerly known as ScotiaBank Place, Corel Centre and Palladium). Played before a crowd that included the usual liberal smattering of Leaf fans in blue-and-white sweaters (albeit very little of the usual venom associated with the Battle of Ontario), the Leafs got another look at goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who played the opening 20 minutes before he was relieved by Drew MacIntyre.
Bernier said he suffered an undisclosed injury in Thursday’s morning skate. While he had hoped to play the entire game on Thursday, his body “felt worse” as the game went on.
He didn’t say much to the media either.
“Nothing concerning,” Bernier said. “I don’t want to talk more about it.”
The nest pre-season test for Leafs will be tomorrow night when they are the guests at the First Niagara Centre in Buffalo. A 7 pm date with the Sabres on CBC. Both clubs will head to Canada for a Sunday night re-match at the ACC, also at 7 pm, broadcast live on Leafs TV.