Preseason Game 43 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3

Preseason Game 43
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Former Windsor Spitfires general manager Mike Kelly, who once traded Jason Spezza for Kyle Wellwood straight up in junior, was opining recently to television analyst Gary Green that Wellwood will wind up with as many points as Spezza when the two finish their National Hockey League careers.

Spezza, of course, has had a head start with the Ottawa Senators and it’s not a certainty that Wellwood will crack the Toronto Maple Leafs roster in his third attempt.

The kid from Windsor, Ont., however, put on quite a show last night in the Leafs’ 4-3 exhibition victory over the Montréal Canadiens. He displayed offensive flair, scoring twice in the second period, and his dazzling deke in the postgame shootout that narrowly missed left the 18,853 fans buzzing as they exited Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

“Things just kept bouncing my way,” said Wellwood, 22.

“I got lucky enough to get those chances.”

Maybe the difference between Spezza and Wellwood is confidence.

It could be an act, but the former Canadian junior standout indicated he doesn’t have high hopes that the Leafs will keep him for the start of the 2005-06 NHL season.

“I don’t expect to make the team,” Wellwood said. “It’s definitely hard to make it and it’s not up to me. If things happen and things open up, hopefully, I’ll get lucky. But there is not much room up here.”

Maybe he should have a word with Kelly or visit the club psychologist for a different outlook.

The knock against Wellwood has always been his size (5 foot 10, 180 pounds) and work ethic in the defensive part of the game. But that was also the knock on small Steve Sullivan who, after departing the Maple Leafs, has averaged 67 points a season with the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators.

Wellwood has survived nicely in the American Hockey League, having scored 58 goals and 142 points in 156 games the past two seasons for Toronto’s farm club.

How did Wellwood deal with the disappointment of failing to make the Leafs the past two years? “I didn’t expect to make the team, so it wasn’t really a big deal,” he said.

On the other hand, veteran winger Steve Thomas, 42, expects to crack the Leaf lineup. That’s why he agreed to attend Toronto’s camp without a contract.

He is no doubt a fan favourite and didn’t disappoint his supporters last night by knocking in a Matt Stajan kick pass in the second period.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Thomas said.

Wellwood scored earlier in the period with a nifty move on a two-on-one and in the final minute of the second period with a blast from 50 feet out.

Defenceman Bryan McCabe had the Leafs’ lone goal in the first period on the power play. It was Toronto’s only marker with the man advantage, as the Leafs went a poor 1-for-11.

Montréal’s Jan Bulis made the score 1-1 with a shot he ripped past Leafs goaltender Jean-François Racine three minutes after the McCabe goal.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, September 23, 2005

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:59 – Aitken, roughing
MTL PEN – 05:20 – Kostitsyn, high sticking
MTL PEN – 07:58 – Chipchura, hooking
TOR PEN – 10:04 – Ponikarovsky, interference
MTL PEN – 12:19 – Ivanans, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 14:01 – McCabe (Sundin, Ponikarovsky)
TOR PEN – 14:26 – Stajan, holding
MTL GOAL – 16:58 – Bulis (Sundstrom)
TOR PEN – 19:07 – Tucker, holding

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:00 – Wellwood (White)
MTL PEN – 06:50 – Bulis, interference
TOR PEN – 07:39 – Marchment, hooking
MTL PEN – 11:47 – Aitken, holding
TOR GOAL – 14:25 – Thomas (Stajan, White)
MTL PEN – 15:14 – Plekanec, hooking
MTL PEN – 15:56 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR GOAL – 19:45 – Wellwood

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:33 – Latendresse, kneeing / roughing double minor
TOR PEN – 02:01 – Stajan, roughing
MTL PEN – 02:01 – Bouillon, roughing
TOR PEN – 03:23 – Steen, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 04:51 – Plekanec (Rivet, Streit)
MTL PEN – 05:26 – Bouillon, tripping
TOR PEN – 07:47 – Perrott, fighting major
MTL PEN – 07:47 – Ivanans, fighting major
TOR PEN – 09:27 – Khavanov, interference
MTL PEN – 13:51 – Bulis, tripping
TOR PEN – 17:58 – Wozniewski, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 19:56 – Dagenais (Plekanec, Ribeiro)


MTL GOAL – Dagenais
TOR GOAL – Sundin
MTL SAVE – Kostitsyn
TOR SAVE – Antropov
MTL MISS – Locke
TOR MISS – Wellwood
MTL MISS – Latendresse
TOR MISS – Thomas
MTL SAVE – Ribeiro
TOR GOAL – Stajan

TOR – Racine (15-16), Tellqvist (W, 16-18)
MTL – Danis (8-10), Price (L, 19-21)

TOR – 8+18+5 = 31
MTL – 9+9+16 = 34

TORGoaltenders: Jean-François Racine, Mikael Tellqvist. Defence: Tomas Kaberle, Alexander Khavanov, Bryan Marchment, Bryan McCabe, Ian White, Andrew Wozniewski. Forwards: Nikolai Antropov, Chad Kilger, Brad Leeb, Nathan Perrott, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen, Mats Sundin, Steve Thomas, Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Clarke Wilm.
MTLGoaltenders: Yann Danis, Carey Price. Defence: Jonathan Aitken, Francis Bouillon, Ron Hainsey, Raitis Ivanans, Andrei Markov, Craig Rivet, Mark Streit. Forwards: Jan Bulis, Kyle Chipchura, Pierre Dagenais, Marcel Hossa, Andrei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Corey Locke, Tomas Plekanec, Mike Ribiero, Niklas Sundstrom, Peter Vandermeer.