September 21, 2010
Nothing gained for KadriKadri does little to stand out as Leafs lose
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Prior to the pre-season curtain-raiser Tuesday, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he’s not about to pencil rookie Nazem Kadri into the opening-night lineup until he earns it.
After a sloppy 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre, Kadri had plenty of company in the work-in-progress department.
Deep breath first: The team iced by Wilson “featured” less than 10 players likely to make the squad when the season opens on Oct. 7.
And with so many new faces, chemistry was expected to be a missing ingredient.
That said, the Senators left many of their stars at home as well and met little resistance other than a reasonable smattering of Toronto body checks and three clear losses in scraps.
As he has been through four days of camp now, Kadri did little to distinguish himself as he worked to get something going with veteran linemates Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong.
“I’ve got see if Nazem Kadri can play in the NHL,” Wilson said after the morning skate. “I’m not handing him a job. He’s got to earn it.”
Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf had a “C” on his jersey for the first time in a game and was met with mixed results. He established a physical presence but was a goat on the Sens’ second goal, playing the pylon as Nick Foligno walked around him and in alone on goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. “Not to make excuses, but it’s early,” Phaneuf said. “We have a lot of work to do and it showed.” ... Sticking with the theme of rusty defence, Tomas Kaberle was left standing at the side of the net on Ottawa’s opener as Jesse Winchester was left all alone in front ... “Unfortunately a couple of veterans let us down,” Wilson said without naming names ... Now we know why Jay Rosehill had those two training-camp scraps. The Leafs tough guy was in mid-season form, filling in Sens C Zack Smith in a scrap at the end of the first ... Early hunch is newcomer Mike Brown will be a fan favourite — and not just for the funky moustache. Brown clocked Ottawa’s Zack Smith early in the third and then throttled Tim Spencer, who came in to stick up for his teammate. “He took on their biggest guy and won the fight,” Wilson said ... And one more fight note: Centre Christian Hanson had his first NHL scrap late in the game (with an easy decision over Brian Lee) and afterward talked about adding to the Hanson family legacy ... The tandems of Armstrong and Versteeg, plus Hanson and Brown, were principals on the Leafs penalty kill, one of the few highlights ... Goaltending duties were split between Gustavsson — who played the first half — and promising Finnish rookie Jussi Rynnas ... What is it about Finnish goalies in a Leafs uniform? We’ll cut the kid some slack for nerves — he has looked decent in camp — but Rynnas allowed three goals in his first nine shots. “I guess I just have to practise more,” Rynnas said ... Kadri managed just one shot on net and had two giveaways and two hits with little of the flash that is his calling card. “The whole line kind of struggled,” Wilson said. “They were all trying to do too much.” ... Remember that league-worst power play, the one that clicked at 14% last season? The Leafs had a two-man advantage for 1:43 in the second period and guess how many shots the Leafs got on net? (Hint, Coke Zero sponsored last-night’s “Fans First” promotion.) It gets worse, people. Before the Sens caught their breath, the Leafs had another five-on-three for 1:24, this time managing a single shot on net. The Sens were doing a reasonable job clogging the shooting lanes, but c’mon ... “A” is for Armstrong. Wilson made the new Leaf feel welcome by being an alternate captain. Armstrong responded by leading the team in hits (five) and working well with Versteeg on the penalty kill ... Versteeg on the fan response: “You’ve got to give them something to cheer about, but we’re working on it. There were a lot of new guys in the lineup.” ... The closest the Leafs came to scoring was when Mike Zigomanis rattled a shot off the post in the final two minutes ... With the loud booing at the end, fans might have been wondering if it’s possible to ask for your money back at a free game ... Glass half full? The Leafs allowed just five shots on net in the second period. Half empty? The Sens were short-handed for most of it ... Expect the Leafs top unit of Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and Nik Kulemin to be in the lineup Wednesday night.