Game Preview: The ‘Yotes are Circlin’

399

11-15-3 since their 6-1 start, 10 losses in their last 13.. it may not be time to panic yet, with the Leafs still tight to Detroit for third in the division, two games coming up against the Red Wings in the next six games, and 45 games still left on the schedule.

But the urgency and concern was manifest in some the quotes aired in the dressing room after the Florida loss. While the vote of confidence “kiss of death” came from Dave Nonis yesterday, Carlyle does have the benefit of the doubt with the injury factor and a playoff appearance last season, which for all we know could preserve him much longer than we’re imagining. The Leafs play four of their next five games at home and the ACC though and it could get hostile with more efforts like the one versus Florida.

Toronto will look to relieve some pressure by halting the bleeding with a home win over Phoenix tonight.

Not the case this season, but in past years the Coyotes were known for the effectiveness of their defensive system. In 2011-12, they were a 42-win team, top 5 in goals against, and 19th in goals for. A 50-win team in 2009-10, the Yotes were third in goals against and 24th in goals for.

The Coyotes missed the playoffs last season, and so far this season we’ve seen a departure from the low-scoring, tight-checking characteristic of Dave Tippett’s team from previous successful iterations. The Coyotes are a decent 18-10-5 – only good enough to be on the playoff fringe in the West, but with games in hand – with top five offensive production, compensating for their fourth worst goals against total and fourth-worst shots against standing. Ribeiro, Vrbata, Shane Doan, Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Rob Klinkhammer (lol) have given the Coyotes solid scoring depth up front, and they’ve had a lot more help than the Leafs in terms of offense from the defense.

The Coyotes top three D (Yandle, Ekman-Larsson, Morris) have a combined 56 points compared to 39 of the Leafs defence. It’s not that the Leafs don’t have some capable point producers on the backend or that their powerplay is struggling; it’s that the team doesn’t sustain the even-strength offensive zone time required for their defense to get more involved in the offense. Contrast the Leafs’ 31 even strength points from their defencemen with the Coyotes’ 54.

The Coyotes’ 54 puts them near the top, and the Leafs’ 31 puts them 4th last in even strength scoring by defencemen, only four points better than the record-setting-ly offensively inept Buffalo Sabres. Knowing this and coming off two one-goal performances, it shouldn’t even be a consideration to sit John Michael Liles in favour of Mark Fraser.

Speaking of offense, Jerred Smithson (pause for laughs) was recalled yesterday and will center the 4th line with Trevor Smith out an extended period of time due to a broken hand. Many were hoping the horrible shift that may well have cost the Leafs the game vs. San Jose was the precursor to a permanent banishment to the Marlies or Solar Bears, but another injury to a center later and here we are.

Just a guess, but Jonathan Bernier seems likely to start.

  • Cameron19

    Oh Jesus, we’re back to using Smithson?

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Sounds good to me.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Ice 7 D and double shift someone, lol.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Can’t be any worse than Smithson.

  • PEIleafnation

    TheCanucksnaphook Rielly, my 9 year old son with CP’s name..isn’t that the best PRO NAME in sports! go leafs go..from snowy PEI

  • PEIleafnation

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 :(

  • Cameron19

    Is the site really this dead this morning?

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook Ringing endorsement of the day!! Fuck, Gauthier would be about 5 times better than Smithson

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe Cameron19 Cam, under what circumstances could the Leafs put Gauthier in the lineup?  Just humor me here

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 Still Mike Smith in et for the Yotes?  Seem to recall you saying he has been mediocre this year

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Emergency recall can be used with less of an emergency than the name implies, I think, but they won’t use it on him now.  Isn’t he overseas for the WJC?  Bozak will be back in like 4 days.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Leafs need a nice long road trip thru the west.  Get comfortable enough with one another to start expressing their honest opinions, call each other out.

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 Mike Smith is a hot and cold goalie.  I often say he’s “horrendous” and get really exaggerative about the degree to which he sucks – but the truth is he can steal a game.  It’s just that he could also let in 4 awful goals

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook Just wanted to be humored.  Bozie has been hampered by this or that all year, Smith and Bolland are gone for awhile.  And I hate Smithson

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook We all do friend…we all do…

  • Cameron19

    Yaknowwhat I noticed last game that the only times we sustained any pressure at all in the offensive zone was because he willed it single-handed by going that deep and helping his forwards win some battles.

  • Reversethecurse13

    TheCanucksnaphook nobody wants to get fooled by a 13 year old

  • Airfreshener

    Welllllllllllllllllllllll its thursday.

  • Cameron19

    Airfreshener One day closer to Friday….

  • Airfreshener

    Cameron19 Airfreshener Hurray!

  • sniperstar

    Yaknowwhat He played forward before and his coach in HS i believe moved him to D because he was better at it.

  • Reversethecurse13

    Is the ‘conference’ standings view at NHL.com the accurate playoff picture, or is it something else?
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?type=con#&navid=nav-stn-conf

  • sniperstar

    Airfreshener One day closer to my last final!

  • reenergized

    Isn’t a GM saying we’re not going to fire the coach and not going to make trades just GM speak for I’m actively looking to make roster changes and looking for a new coach?

  • Airfreshener

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Airfreshener Lame. Who wants to go there.

  • Cameron19

    Reversethecurse13 Click wild card for accurate playoff picture. If season ended today, we’d play Pittsburgh in the opening round.

  • Airfreshener

    sniperstar Airfreshener Nice! I wrote my last final in April of this year.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Per Steve Dangle’s latest video, I agree that if the Leafs continue with the downward spiral (and I see little reason to hope things will change), then after the New Year Nonis should see what he might get for Reimer, whether part of a package or alone, whatever.  Reimer’s stats might continue to decline in this atmosphere, and his off season comments and most recent profanity laced remarks (i’m joking) suggests he ain’t gonna be all to happy to come back next season as de facto back up.  He might be an attractive offer sheet target this summer – which as I understand it, was what prompted the Kings to trade Bernier.
    If the Leafs wait until the summer, at the point when everyone knows they have to trade Reimer (market may be rife with goalies as well) , they may be worsening what is already a questionable act of asset managment.
    I really like Reimer, but please no stretched out Canuck like goalie controversy

  • Airfreshener

    TheCanucksnaphook More like Borington! Seriously though Burlington is great.

  • Reversethecurse13

    Cameron19 Reversethecurse13 i’d say every team but the Bruins you could say the Leafs would win a series against. We’re in pretty good shape all things considered.

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Just keep the goalie less likely to win games and carry on! lol

  • Knights2Leafs

    The lack of points from the Leafs back end is symptomatic of an apparent disconnect between the forwards and dmen all year.  When we are bottled up in our end, there seems to be a lack of cohesion between the fowards and dmen in getting the puck out.  When we are in the offensive zone 5 on 5, it’s not common for our dmen to get the puck passed back to them get a point shot.  I have no idea if this is systems based, but I’m tired of seeing the opposing team blasting shot after shot on our net.

  • Cameron19

    Reversethecurse13 Cameron19 Yea, the worrisome thing is how well the Flyers have played of late.  They’re only 3 points back of us now, but with two games in hand. They could easily surpass us by the weekend.

  • Reversethecurse13

    A couple years ago we’d have killed to even be in a playoff spot, now we’re playing ‘shite’ with a shit-load of injuries, and we’ve managed 7th.

  • Airfreshener

    Cameron19 Reversethecurse13 This.

  • Cameron19

    Reversethecurse13 We need a win streak to stay in that spot though, because the teams behind us have only been improving while we’ve been getting worse.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Cameron19 Reversethecurse13 
    Funny how we reveled in their early dysfunction to begin the year.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Phoenix works their asses off and play a structured game based on solid coaching. The boys better have their game ready tonight, no more talk, no more excuses.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe Who knows with goalies cam?  They seem to be very comparable talents and personaiities.  You could flip a coin.  But Reimer is the one that is a RFA looking for a raise.

  • Mcost61

    How long before Leiweke starts to question the path being taken? Is he patient?

  • Cameron19

    Knights2Leafs Cameron19 Reversethecurse13 We could learn something from them.

  • Knights2Leafs

    ingy56 
    Every team we play lately seems to work their asses off.  That might be a new strategy we could try.

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 I know, I’m just kidding.  If I had to choose, I’d keep Reimer, but my first option would be to keep both.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Mcost61 Carlyle may not be sure.  Bodie gettin some 4th line playing time letely.  Hmmmm…

  • Reversethecurse13

    Cameron19 Reversethecurse13 So many games left, and you’d think we couldn’t be any more unlucky with injuries and officiating.

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 Also, I’m fairly sure the Leafs can file for arbitration with Reimer, and prevent him from going to the RFA market.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Knights2Leafs ingy56 Yup…very much agree, but if there is a team that symbolizes work effort Phoenix would have to be one of them.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Knights2Leafs Agree.  The defencemen get crapped on constantly.  Christ, be nice if the forwards gave them break out options and backchecked with a little urgency now and then

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Mcost61 We’ll know when he issues the dreaded “vote of confidence” to Nonis, then tick…tick…tick….

  • Cameron19

    Reversethecurse13 Cameron19 Oh, I doubt that.  It can always get worse, lol.