We’ll have Points after every game throughout the Toronto Maple Leafs season. You’d really hate to miss out on Points. Especially when we inevitably one day go full Darryl Sittler.
D.J. Smith improved to 2-0 over his former boss after graduating from the Mike Babcock coaching pipeline over the summer as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Maple Leafs in consecutive split squad matchups, 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Point 1: Matthews can score from anywhere
With open competition at a variety of positions, holes to plug as mainstays recover from injury, two eight-figure stars arriving late to camp and the beginnings of an odd controversy with Babcock twice singling out veteran newcomer Jason Spezza, Auston Matthews has been a rare constant through the first week of official activities for the Maple Leafs.
But there has been one storyline involving him in training camp and now into the pre-season schedule, which is a shift to the weak side on the power play.
Seeing him stationed on his opposite hand for drills and now into game action came across as a bit surprising considering the fact that Matthews has been so lethal with his release from the left hashmark.
But then he scored his first of the pre-season and it made a little more sense.
While scored from the opposite side, Matthews’ goal Wednesday versus the Senators was really not all that different from many of his power-play strikes over the last three seasons. Turning into space before firing, maybe he scored from a little father out than normal, but the only real difference now is that there seems to be less mechanics involved with Matthews’ torso already facing the target.
Another reason for the positional shift is the hope that Matthews can add a one-time shot to his arsenal — which may have been what he was alluding to when he mentioned plans to unveil some new tricks for the upcoming season.
Point 2: Hate to Harp on it
It is still very much the pre-season — and the second of two Maple Leafs split squads dealt with a built-in disadvantage Wednesday having arrived in Ottawa late after skating one last time in Newfoundland that morning — but more problems than solutions seem to have surfaced after consecutive losses to the Senators to open the exhibition portion of the schedule.
Chief among them: Ben Harpur.
This isn’t only because he was walked by Connor Brown and seemed to struggle with the speed of the game in a general sense, or because the first look at his penalty-killing partnership with Cody Ceci didn’t look overly promising, or because not a single defenceman on the bubble stepped up in the last 48 hours — though these are all factors.
What might concern Leafs fans most was that Harpur did one mostly unimportant thing to stand out amongst the mediocrity: fight Senators forward Scott Sabourin — the one player aiming to make a roster through physicality and physicality alone after slew-footing Morgan Rielly and blindsiding Andreas Johnsson.
It cost Harpur some shifts, as he didn’t immediately return after serving his five-minute major and instigation minor for the heated scrap. Considering his shift-to-shift performance, the benefits of having a decreased sample to evaluate depends on how much you value the scrap.
And maybe the Leafs do, because Harpur was one of the league leaders in fighting majors last season.
More Maple Leafs coverage on Yahoo Sports