Kid stuff for Leafs in Philly

Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn skates against his brother, Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, at...

Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn skates against his brother, Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., Sep. 21, 2011. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images/AFP)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:14 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA - The next two weeks of the Maple Leafs pre-season, you have to figure, will say far more about what we can expect when the season begins than what we’ve seen so far.

Let’s just say, the Leafs’ charter that left Toronto mid-afternoon for their third game in as many nights, wasn’t filled with many bodies you will see on opening night.

But that didn’t stop the young legs from making an impact in the team’s third game in as many nights.

A pair of goals by Matt Frattin (one of those into an empty net) and another from Joe Colborne, paced the Leafs to a 4-2 win over the Flyers.

This on a day when 23 other young players got their tickets back to the minors, to junior or an outright release.

“The writing was on the wall (for those released on Wednesday),” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “The kids we had in the lineup tonight know the next round (of cuts), some of them are probably going to be on it.

“If some guys continue to play well, they force us to make tough decisions. You can’t just give out jobs automatically and not get effort.”

Yes, there are still some jobs to fight for and veterans to prepare for the season opener on Oct. 6, which is looming larger by the day.

There are still cuts to made and the top two lines to get up to game speed, but there was some real upside Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center from the guys doing the pushing.

After a dull effort the previous night, which resulted in a 4-0 home loss to the Flyers, the Leafs were far more energetic from the start as they improved their pre-season record to 2-1.

And this despite the fact they had a morning skate in Etobicoke, an afternoon flight and then a game.

As has been the case so far in camp, the line centred by Tyler Bozak has been the most effective. This time it was Frattin taking the place of Nazem Kadri, who played the previous two nights, with Colby Armstrong back on the other wing.

“The (Bozak) line has been our best line in training camp,” Wilson said after Wednesday’s version chipped in with a combined six points. “Hopefully the other guys pick up on how well they’ve played and put forth a better effort.”

That is Frattin’s mindset, even if some are pegging Kadri to have the upper hand in the battle for the available wing spot on that line. Even though one of his goals was a gimme, Frattin says he is treating every shift as if it’s his last.

“Pre-season for me is trying to make a statement for the management and coaching staff to make the team,” said Frattin, a college star at North Dakota who had an impressive one-game cameo late last season.

“They’re watching every shift of mine and I have to keep on going harder and harder throughout the game.”

Considering that Nikolai Kulemin was the only forward in the lineup who will be in the top six on opening night and Luke Schenn the only blueliner guaranteed to be in the top four, it could have been a long night for the Leafs.

Instead, they got three pucks past Flyers’ $48-million man in net, Ilya Bryzgalov, and much less sloppiness in their own zone than the previous night.

Defenceman Mike Komisarek, in need of a big camp, was steady and seems to be getting back to the calm, stay-at-home style he was expected to produce.

Ben Scrivens played 32 minutes of shutout hockey (with the help of two posts) and has a nice 0.95 goals against average and .958 save percentage in a little more than 60 minutes of exhibition play.

As for Wilson, with a much leaner lineup and the kids playing so well, it’s time to get down to the serious business of preparing for opening night.


Photos