Leafs coach Randy Carlyle repeats a mantra that during the pre-season games he expects players to “separate themselves” from the pack with exceptional play.

There wasn’t much of that in the Leafs’ 4-3 win over the Flyers here Sunday night but for Nazem Kadri fans there was a highlight-reel goal that should keep them buzzing for awhile.

“It was 2-on-2 and I got the puck (on a pass) out of our zone with some speed” Kadri said in describing his first goal of the pre-season which was a piece of puck wizardry.

“I saw their defenceman I think he thought I was going to pass so he went down and I pulled it back in (toe drag) then I saw an opening at the side and I put it in.”

Kadri makes such things sound routine but they are moves and dekes that only the most gifted players in the league can manage.

Mason Raymond Troy Bodie and Paul Ranger also scored for the Leafs.
It will be up to the Leafs’ younger players to duplicate such game-breaking moments as the pre-season progresses. There may be one or two job openings — a third- or fourth-line winger and possibly a spot on the blue line.

The Leafs iced a mostly young and inexperienced team and most of those players have only a game or two to show the coaching staff they deserve to stick around longer than a week.

What Carlyle also saw was Joe Colborne play first-line minutes and take on a lead role during Leaf penalty kills.

It’s the kind of role acceptance Carlyle wants his young players to understand as they come out of junior — where they may have been scoring stars — and try to establish a pro career.

Superteen Morgan Rielly was paired with Ranger as the lead defensive pairing on the power play; and both handled themselves well with the puck once the Leafs had possession in the opposition zone.