|Red Wings prepare to face adaptable Maple Leafs|
The Toronto Maple Leafs are quickly proving they can win any style of game.
They have shown an explosive offense in the early season, but Tuesday night showed they can win the tight games as well with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals in Toronto.
The Capitals eliminated the Maple Leafs in six games last season in the playoffs.
The Detroit Red Wings, who did not play Tuesday as they awaited their game against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre, are impressed by a team that is being driven by a nucleus of good, young players.
"These guys have taken their game to the next level," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told The Detroit News. "They came in last year and they didn't just want to be there, they contributed right away, and this year they seem like they've taken it to a whole another level. It's impressive to see."
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, the former Red Wings coach, said he was not surprised with how his team performed despite the scarcity of goals.
"I think they just played," he said. "I don't think it's that new, we've been in lots of games. In saying that, the last two games offensively we haven't been as good. We have to have a look at that and find a way to be better and generate more offense. We think we can and so we'll have a look at it and get ready for the Red Wings."
Babcock caused a stir Monday at practice when he dropped Mitch Marner to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Matt Martin, changing places with Connor Brown, who moved up to the line with James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak.
Brown scored the first goal of the game Tuesday in the third period. The other Toronto goal, scored by Nazem Kadri, was into an empty net.
"Playing with those two guys, they're really easy to play with," Brown said. "There wasn't much of an adjustment period. I thought we had a really good first period, for the most part we were on the gas. We got a little too loose when we weren't scoring, but we stuck to the game plan pretty well."
"I liked that Brownie worked hard, he was good on the penalty kill, he got to the net and they got the puck there," Babcock said. "We didn't have a lot of that type of play tonight -- like I said, it was a lot of rush instead of being heavy.
"It was great to see him get to the net and be rewarded. I thought Mitch (Marner)'s line, too, with Moore and (Martin), I thought they had a big night too. I thought they played real good."
Marner is part of the young, dynamic group that has transformed the Maple Leafs in a team that can contend.
"Their line wasn't going, so tie goes to the veterans," Babcock said Monday. "(Marner) just happens to be the kid on the line, that's it."
Let's not read too much into that. You have to have all your units going and we're trying to do that. It was a big win in Montreal (4-3 in overtime Saturday), but saying that, we didn't generate a lot and they did. When we win, everything's not always great and when we lose everything's not always bad."
"Defensively, right now I'm not too happy how that is going," Marner said.
The Red Wings (4-2-0) will enter the game against the Maple Leafs (5-1-0) with a positive feeling despite losing 3-2 at home on Monday to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Their big problem against the Lightning was their power play, which was 0 of 6.
"I thought we were the better team five-on-five," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We had more quality chances. In the end, the difference would be specialty teams -- (the Lightning) scored two on specialty teams, we scored zero. That's the difference."
The Red Wings expect that Danny DeKeyser will be out for another one to two weeks after blocking a shot against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 10. He also has a slightly sprained ankle.
Blashill is impressed by Toronto's depth at forward led by a group of young players with Auston Matthews.
"I felt that when we played them in the Centennial Classic (Jan. 1 in Toronto) that was as deep a forward group and as dangerous a group as anybody in the league," Blashill said. "Right there with Pittsburgh, I felt. And they certainly haven't lost anybody. If anything, they've added somebody (Patrick Marleau) that is probably going to be a Hall of Famer.
"If you're on your heels, you're in trouble. You better pressure them as much as possible, and make them defend as much as possible."