Spouse and I did make the drive down to Kitchener last night (earlier this evening, actually) to watch the Leafs rookies vs. the Penguins rookies. I’ll have more to say about the game later – right now it’s late and I need to get to bed if I’m going to be a productive member of society tomorrow – but here are some preliminary thoughts:
- Kid Kadri!!!!1 He’s the real deal, people. He could use some bulking up, especially up top, but the guy is slick smooth with incredible hand/eye co-ordination and a retinue of subtle moves, little shifts from side to side, slight changes of pace, small stick movements, etc. – that put his opponents off balance and allow him to sift through defenders and to find open space. I don’t think he’s NHL ready right now, but I would be willing to bet he’ll make the Leafs next year;
- Jesse Blacker has a howitzer for a shot. That kid is some steady, too. I was impressed with his play, though he was on the ice for the Penguins’ second goal, scored on a soft little spinerama move on the goalline by Moon;
- Stalberg and Stefanovich showed lots of promise and combined on the Leafs’ only goal of the evening – basically a short 2 on 0 after a Penguin defender turned it over to Stralberg in the high slot;
- I didn’t notice Bozak and Hanson as much as I thought I might. I did see Hanson a lot, and he seemed to be playing well positionally, but they didn’t seem to accomplish much. The power play (which featured these two prominently) was an abomination worthy of an actual big league Maple Leafs power play – it was that bad;
- Dale Mitchell continues to get noticed. He’s full of energy and plays a smart positional game, especially defensively. He played on a line with Gilati and Kurtz, and these three were more visible to my eye (especially in the late stages of the game) than Bozak and Hanson (though Stalberg, the third forward on that line, did impress me);
- Andrew Engelage (former goaltender for the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires) unfortunately didn’t do much to increase his chances of landing and keeping a big league deal – the Leafs had scored to make it 2-1 and were coming on in a big way and threatening to tie the game midway through the 3rd when Engelage coughed up a Raycroftian hairball and whiffed on Robert Bortuzzo’s weak shot for the 3rd Penguin goal, effectively extinguishing the Maple Leaf comeback attempt. Too bad for Andrew, I’d like to see him get a shot somewhere.
Here’s a quick mashup of some video I shot at the game. There are no fancy transitions, ’cause I haven’t figured out how to use that part of my new video editing software yet. Shown in this video are:
- A picture of the teams lined up for the national anthems;
- The Leafs skating out on to the ice for the 3rd period;
- The Penguins first goal, the one iPhone and I combined to describe on Twitter as a “Quasimodo breakaway” – you gotta love “autocorrect”. And yes, those people in front of me DO have rather large heads, and yes, I should have used the “zoom” feature. Thanks for your help;
- The fight between Slaney and Bortuzzo. Bombs away, this is truculence;
- A bit of the play – featuring Bozak, Hanson and Stalberg, if I recall correctly; and
- Kid Kadri doing some stuff, and then unfortunately getting drilled – he’s the guy taking the draw and wearing number 43.
I’ll take a little closer look at the footage I’ve got on Friday night and see if I can’t cobble together a little something better than this. In the meantime, enjoy.