Preseason Game 44 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Preseason Game 44
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Centre Bell, Montréal, Québec

After three preseason games of finding their way around the new NHL, the Maple Leafs spent last night looking a lot like somebody driving an unfamiliar country road at night without headlights.

Not only did the Leafs lose 3-2 to the Montréal Canadiens in their fourth friendly, they took 12 minor penalties after looking very much as if they had been a quick study in the NHL’s new standard of enforcement.

To make matters worse, Jeff O’Neill suffered what looked like a very scary, but ultimately minor, injury when he was hit behind his left ear by a Tomas Kaberle shot from the point.

Yes, that Tomas Kaberle, the guy who drove people bonkers his first six years in Toronto by never shooting the puck. But maybe it was better that way. Now that he’s making like Al MacInnis, he’s hurting people. Last week in a morning skate, he caught Carlo Colaiacovo with a shot in the foot and knocked the rookie out of a preseason game.

On the plus side, other than the fact that he’s doing a better job of trimming the roster than GM John Ferguson, Kaberle also scored a goal from the point, assisted on another and has emerged as the guy to run the power play.

O’Neill was sent writhing to the ice after being hit in the first period and had to be helped off. It was a tense moment for O’Neill, who said he briefly lost feeling in his neck.

“I was a little scared myself, but the feeling came back right away,” said O’Neill, who maintained he would have returned to the lineup if it had been a regular season game. “Now we’re just trying to get the swelling down. Maybe I’ll miss (the game against the Ottawa Senators tonight) and then I should be all right. We’ll see how it feels (today).”

The game was certainly no masterpiece, with all five goals coming on the power playThe game was certainly no masterpiece, with all five goals coming on the power play. Leafs coach Pat Quinn chose his words carefully, starting with “disappointing” and “confusing,” but picking up steam later.

When asked if last night’s game, which featured 22 minor penalties, was an example of growing pains that everyone must endure in the new NHL, Quinn replied, “I hope it’s not that painful. That was painful.” He went on to say, “I would hate to think we’re going to have games like that all year long. That would be really discouraging.”

To his credit, Quinn acknowledged that he doesn’t really have the right to carp too much given his feelings about the way the game used to be played.

“I’m probably talking a little bit too much here,” Quinn said. “I’m one of the guys who wanted to move in this direction.”

With all the penalties, it was almost impossible to use this game as an evaluating tool for player personnel decisions. Fourth liner John Pohl is fighting for a spot, but played only seven minutes, 40 seconds. However, he managed to find time to get an assist on Kaberle’s goal, which actually appeared to be tipped in by Tie Domi.

Speaking of Domi, who would have thought that with 22 penalties and five power play goals the game would have been decided by a diving call on Domi, one of the most penalized players in NHL history?

There was the requisite number of interesting calls, including an interference call on Colaiacovo late in the third period which he received for rubbing Alexei Kovalev along the boards just after he got rid of the puck.

Kovalev also won the shootout for the Canadiens by scoring the only goal, and if there’s a player whose game is tailor made for this kind of hockey, it’s Kovalev.

Jason Allison looked impressive in his preseason debut for the Leafs, particularly in a penalty killing role.

Eric Lindros, who had only one shot and was booed each time he touched the puck, admitted that he has been struggling in the preseason.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, September 25, 2005

1st Period
TOR PEN – 02:13 – Ondrus, interference
TOR PEN – 02:36 – Brown, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 02:41 – Souray (Kovalev, Koivu)
TOR PEN – 04:43 – Colaiacovo, hooking
TOR PEN – 06:59 – Ponikarovsky, hooking
MTL PEN – 07:02 – Perezhogin, interference
MTL PEN – 08:02 – Dandenault, holding
MTL PEN – 11:21 – Ivanans, hooking
TOR PEN – 14:32 – Wilm, interference
MTL PEN – 16:29 – Zednik, slashing
MTL PEN – 18:10 – Côté, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 18:35 – Kaberle (Pohl, Khavanov)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 01:09 – Komisarek, hooking
MTL PEN – 02:53 – Streit, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 04:34 – Ponikarovsky (Kaberle, Allison)
TOR PEN – 05:07 – Wozniewski, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:17 – Thomas, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 09:34 – Zednik (Bonk, Koivu)
MTL PEN – 10:48 – Streit, hooking
TOR PEN – 17:04 – Domi, diving
MTL PP GOAL – 19:02 – Plekanec (Dandenault, Hossa)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:47 – Bonk, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:10 – Lindros, high sticking
TOR PEN – 14:38 – Wozniewski, elbowing
TOR PEN – 16:41 – Kilger, slashing
TOR PEN – 17:46 – Colaiacovo, interference
MTL PEN – 19:06 – Dandenault, hooking

MTL – Théodore (W, 20-22)
TOR – Belfour (15-17), Racine (OTL, 20-21)

MTL – 10+15+13 = 38
TOR – 9+7+6 = 22

MTLGoaltenders: Yann Danis, José Théodore. Defence: Jean-Philippe Côté, Mathieu Dandenault, Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek, Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit. Forwards: Radek Bonk, Kyle Chipchura, Jonathan Ferland, Christopher Higgins, Marcel Hossa, Raitis Ivanans, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Alexander Perezhogin, Tomas Plekanec, Niklas Sundstrom, Richard Zednik.
TORGoaltenders: Ed Belfour, Jean-François Racine. Defence: Brad Brown, Carlo Colaiacovo, Tomas Kaberle, Alexander Khavanov, Staffan Kronwall, Andrew Wozniewski. Forwards: Jason Allison, Mariusz Czerkawski, Tie Domi, Chad Kilger, Eric Lindros, Jeff O’Neill, Ben Ondrus, John Pohl, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Steve Thomas, Kyle Wellwood, Clarke Wilm.