September 9th 2018. There were two separate games this afternoon between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs’ rookies in Laval, Québec. The first one lasted 15 minutes and showed a dominant, confident, skilled and also intimidating Toronto team. The power play was producing, thanks in good part to players like Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, Jeremy Bracco and Carl Grundström, the execution was there and made their opponents look puzzled in their own end.
And then there was a hit from behind by the Leafs’ defenceman Hudson Elynuik on the Canadiens’ 2017 fifth rounder, Jarret Tyszka. The new Laval Rocket (AHL) head coach Joel Bouchard sure did not appreciate the hit, but mostly the lack of character showed by his players as he benched all of his players on the ice at the moment of the hit for the remaining six minutes of that first period.
The message was clear and was certainly heard as the Canadiens jumped on the ice hungry and intense after the first intermission. Within the first 30 seconds of the second period we saw at least three solid hits, including a dangerous elbow to the head by Canadiens’ Morgan Adams-Moisan which rightfully got him expelled from the game.
For the reminder of the game, the Canadiens played with more grit and intensity when entering the offensive zone. The Montreal’s defence was also able to limit the opposition to 9 shots in the last 40 minutes of the game. Toronto’s netminder Zachary Bouthillier was solid to say the least and still managed to get the win for his team, a 4-2, one including an empty-net goal at the end of the third.
Here are notes from key players in this game:
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Carl Grundström: Not nearly as physical as the day before against the Sens’ rookies. It was difficult for him and his linemates to enter the offensive zone efficiently. He still managed to show his offensive skills on a couple power plays, including the first goal of the game on a two-man advantage early in the game.
Timothy Liljegren: The Swedish was once again the main piece of his team’s power play with efficient puck-moving skills and offensive sense. He didn’t hesitate to carry the puck and once again felt very comfortable doing so.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev: The speedy Russian couldn’t use his skating as he would have liked to against a much tighter defense and