The Toronto Maple Leafs had the most dynamic collection of forwards at the London rookie tournament, a fact they showed off repeatedly in a 6-2 win over the Penguins tonight.
With top-10 draft picks William Nylander and Mitch Marner scoring goals to lead the way, the Leafs took advantage of a makeshift Penguins defense better than Montreal or Ottawa did in the first two games of the tournament. Lesser-known prospects Michael Joly and Brad Vail had big games too.
Matt Murray played the first period and gave up one goal. Tristan Jarry played the last two periods and surrendered five. The Penguins finished the tournament 2-1.
Some other notes:
— Daniel Sprong was the Penguins’ most dangerous player by a large margin. In the first period, Leafs goalie Garret Sparks robbed him with a pair of glove saves. Later, Sprong beat his man up the wing and centered to Sahir Gill for a goal and then scored one himself from a bad angle in the right-wing corner.
Sprong does have a tendency to float in the defensive zone. I think the best-case scenario for the Penguins would not be if he eliminated that part of his game and became some kind of grinder. It would be if he toned down the cheating just a little, became an adequate player in his own end and kept the risk-taking parts of his game that made him fun to watch.
— The Leafs had some shift-disturbers in the lineup — Vail and Marner were the most effective in that area – and it gave the Penguins problems. They ran around a good bit.
— Cheswick’s Miles Liberati had the second assist on Gill’s goal.
— Toronto’s Rinat Valiev drilled Ty Loney’s head into the glass in the second period and he left the ice leaking blood. No penalty was called, curiously enough. Loney returned for the third period.
Loney’s game is interesting. His first instinct is to try to beat defenders with skill, stickhandle by them, that sort of thing. If that doesn’t work, it looks to me like he gets a little frustrated and tries to run defenders over. It makes me think he might be better served making the running-over option his first choice sometimes. He’s a big kid.
— That wraps things up from London. The next item on the calendar is the opening of training camp with physicals Thursday and the first practice Friday. Make sure to stop back here at Chipped Ice regularly throughout camp. I’ll share my impressions nearly every day. You can share yours in the comments too.
A quick note before I go. Because seating is limited, the Penguins have instituted a lottery for free tickets to camp Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Cranberry. The deadline to apply on the team’s website is Monday at 5 p.m., so get on it.
Bye for now,