March 14 2013 02:40PM
Three games of giving up four or more goals, and to stem the bleeding, the Leafs have brought John-Michael Liles into the lineup to replace Mike Kostka. I think a lot of fans would want more, but there are better things to do than respond to player personnel issues in the middle of a losing streak. The Leafs do have the tools to recalibrate and optimize their lineup to win more games, and I'd rather they do that than pick up players to fill certain roles via the trade market.
The opponent tonight is Pittsburgh, not the best team to meet in the middle of a slump. The Leafs will also start backup goaltender Ben Scrivens, not the best guy to start considering James Reimer has played the Penguins pretty well this season. The Leafs are 1-0-1 against Pittsburgh despite getting out-chanced 36-20 in two appearances. Lot of that is thanks to goaltending.
March 14 2013 12:04PM
So John-Michael Liles will roll back into the lineup tonight, which changes up Randy Carlyle's defensive pairings for the first time since the Leafs first game against Ottawa, when Ben Scrivens recorded his first ever NHL shutout. That was Game 15.
There have been tweaks, but for the last twelve games on the schedule, Carlyle has started his defensive units as such:
Dion Phaneuf - Korbinian Holzer
Carl Gunnarsson - Mike Kostka
Mark Fraser - Cody Franson
Three left shots and three right shots. The two defencemen in the press box eating popcorn and salary cap dollars, Mike Komisarek* and John-Michael Liles, are both left shots (*-UPDATE - It's been pointed out that Komisarek is actually a right shot. He doesn't play enough for me to notice these things). Carlyle evidently hates the idea of a defenceman playing on his off side, despite Phaneuf playing excellent on his right side alongside Carl Gunnarsson last season, and despite Phaneuf playing excellent on the right side of left-shooting Keith Aulie back during the spring of 2011.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 13 2013 10:41PM
Get ready for two cliches over the next few games - "The Toronto Marlies take on Lake Erie", and "your defence wins you important hockey games". Blame the AHL schedules for the first one, and credit the Marlies for the second, because while the team remains in low scoring times, they've found a way to make the situation even worse on their opponents, as they did tonight with a 2-1 win over the Monsters.
March 13 2013 11:29AM
Mini-slump? MINI-SLUMP!!! TIME TO PANIC?!??!
March 12 2013 10:12PM
"A possession black hole on every forward line, and an AHL defenceman on every pairing."
Not entirely sure if Randy Carlyle's rebuilding of the Maple Leafs locker room has that hung up on a sign somewhere, but the good fortune the Leafs got in the defensive zone of the first 10 or so games of the season has finally come to catch up with them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs stunk against Winnipeg, and there weren't very many bright spots. They were out-scored 5-2, out-chanced 17-12 and the Jets had 78 shot attempts to the Leafs' 46. This is all despite the game starting with two face-punching tilts with Colton Orr against Chris Thorburn, and then a well-advised Dion Phaneuf-Andrew Ladd scrap that wiped out a potential Blake Wheeler scoring chance.