While it certainly was the performance he was looking for and desperately needed, Nazem Kadri may still find that his impression was needed much sooner in order to secure a job within the NHL to start the 2010/2011 season. The 19 year old showed signs of the player Leafs’ management was hoping to see from the outset of pre-season in a 4-3 victory over divisional rival Ottawa Senators. The 2 goal 1 assist performance did impress head coach Ron Wilson, but after the game Wilson spoke of the need for players to step up much earlier to secure a spot within the line-up.
“He had a good game, but you pick your team based on a body of work,” said Wilson. “He got an opportunity to play tonight in Kris Versteeg’s spot. He scored. He made some nice plays, some nice moves. But that’s something we’ll sit down and talk about: What’s best for him and what’s best for our team.”
In another high note from last nights game, the Maple Leaf penalty killing was excellent in shutting down the Senators’ power play in all 5 chances. Seeing a dramatic improvement on the penalty kill is something Wilson was stressing to his team and it seems the system is coming together.
A stat where the Leafs found themselves in the basement last season was their power play. A power play that was clicking last night scoring 3 goals on 9 chances. In the power play and penalty kill, the Leafs will have 2 vital pieces of their game to work on in order to avoid stumbling out of the gate this season. Fixing those, while receiving consistent efforts from players like Phil Kessel will see this team display a much better start this year. A start that is vital to their success in keeping pace within the Eastern Conference.
Next up is a home and home series with the Detroit Red Wings, beginning in the Motor City on Friday.
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About the Author
Written by RJ Emptage
Operations Manager of a retail chain in Southern Ontario (Sports Obsession). Specialize in licensed sports apparel and novelties (Visit sportsobsession.ca). Being from the Hamilton area I grew up and into a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf Fan, and look forward to a bright blue and white future...(I know that sounds crazy doesn't it?) Love all things sports and the next best thing to playing them, is talking them!