Game Preview: The ‘Yotes are Circlin’

Game Preview: The ‘Yotes are Circlin’

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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.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
459 comments
Leafs rule
Leafs rule

since its got so slow etc here heres some good advice imho

Dorothy and Edna, two "senior" widows, are talking.

Dorothy: "That nice George Johnson asked me out for a date. I know you went out with him last week, and I wanted to talk with you about him before I give him my answer."

Edna: "Well, I'll tell you. He shows up at my apartment punctually at 7 P.M., dressed like such a
Gentleman in a fine suit, and he brings me such beautiful flowers! Then he takes me
Downstairs, and what's there but a luxury car... A limousine, uniformed chauffeur and all.

Then he takes me out for dinner... A marvelous dinner... Lobster, champagne, dessert, and after-dinner drinks. Then we go see a show. Let me tell you, Dorothy, I enjoyed it so much I could have just died from pleasure!

So then we are coming back to my apartment and he turns into an ANIMAL. Completely crazy, he tears off my expensive new dress and has his way with me two times!"

Dorothy: "Goodness gracious!... So you are telling me I shouldn't go out with him?"

Edna: "No, no, no... I'm just saying, wear an old dress."


deedrag
deedrag

Fuck! i know what RC should've done? He should of arranged a field trip, to one of the mines in Sudbury where he grew up. Show them what it's like really work for a living. Make them feel guilty for not trying hard enough and letting their fans like these down.

Mcost61
Mcost61

Come on Leafs, or you will all be getting pieces of coal for Christmas!

deedrag
deedrag

My kid floored me the other day. He said "Daddy what if the players are playing RC's game on purpose to show him it doesn't work? Does that mean the coach is wrong?" I had no response for it. Still working on an answer. Kids see the world so differently.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Carlyle coached a half season last year and the team was pretty good. He has coached less than a half season this year, the first half of which was pretty good. But fans want to get rid of him because that's how we roll in Toronto.

mlclearwater
mlclearwater

Gardiner and Reilly really getting the chance to shine I find. And they are. Both have been very strong lately, exclduing Gardiners benching last game

LightmyLeaf
LightmyLeaf

listening to a story by Harry Neale at a Cherry banquet years ago, when he was a coach a ways back. He arrived to find 3 envelopes in the Coaches drawer, 1st one said "open after 1st sign of trouble" so he just left them.....so they starting losing, he remembered, opened the first envelope, and it said "BLAME ME", so he went to the media, said that it was a new coaching system, previous coach had a different system, "it will take time for players to adjust" ....so they went on for another month, hit another bad patch, remembered the 2nd envelope said at the "2nd sign of trouble", so he opened it, it said "BLAME  THE MEDIA"....so he did just that, telling the media that they were putting too much pressure on the team, things will turn around..blah blah blah....December came and they hit a very bad patch(is this sounding familiar?...) and 3 days before he was fired, he decided to open the third envelope, and it said ...."make 3 envelopes"....


not that this was a fitting story...but a good time to pass it along....laughed by ass off....Harry is a better story teller than me....

Marleafs
Marleafs

I just hope we don't see any "Classic Kadri" giveaways at the offensive blue line. You can't blame plays like that on fatigue.

Mcost61
Mcost61

Maple Leafs host Coyotes on TSN, TSN Radio 1050

CHRONIC BLAZEE
CHRONIC BLAZEE

as much a tonights game isnt a must win.... i feel like it is a must win.... 

Same thing patty roy said about that avs game when they were on their losing skid, its a big game to prove something tonight

vinoa
vinoa

@deedrag Sucks that people can't have an opinion any more. I'm no fan of Duck Dynasty but I assume people watch that for entertainment and not moral guidance. Since when is it some TV hick's job to teach us about tolerance!?!

colino17
colino17

@Mcost61Saw this pop up in the bottom corner but could only see "Dave Nonis will be calling...". Thought it was a presser, lol.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@deedrag

i would have replied "they're not the teachers union, son.  they wouldn't do that."

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I think the coach's game worked pretty good last year. Question is why don't the players want to play the coach's game this year?

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

@deedrag No...it means that the players need a good kick in the arse.....life's not fair and there will come a time when you have to work with/for somebody that you don't particularly like.....adult professionals take pride in their work and get the job done regardless of their working conditions......when the going gets tough, the tough get going......you make your own luck....gotta be good to be lucky........too harsh?...lol  :)

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Xxxxxnewre get rid ..... what a bunch of ficle fans reacting almost by the game pffft

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Xxxxxnew I think it is how they played this year.. all this year to date.. We have been basically outplayed almost every night other than skilled forwards who have a high shooting percentage and goalies with a high save percentage... the way we have played can not continue and the thing is most people do not see how Carlyle can change that.. that is why they think it is him and reasons for him not to be coach.. it is up to the players.. if they can not get out of it, even though they have shown the skill to play/compete with elite teams.. then it will fall back on the coaching systems, lineups/lines/situations and calls for him again

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

@Marleafs kadri is better then Grabbo at the give aways. Grabbo's give aways were in the neutral zone

CHRONIC BLAZEE
CHRONIC BLAZEE

Also, I am going to the game so that makes it more of a must win in my eyes.... haha

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Yaknowwhatre sailing wish I could lol.even be crew , The leafs gotta win a few soon ,Go leafs Go

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@Yaknowwhat You can't give off the impression it's on the coach until you fire the coach. Wrong message otherwise.

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

@Yaknowwhat Carlyle had to send a messgae to the team and he couldn't bench the team best dman who didn't have a great game.  That would have been a fun HBO angle if Phaneuf was benched.

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

@vinoa @deedrag Agreed....but it's all about the ratings.  His comments were offensive and discriminatory to some viewers.....I wouldn't stop watching the show...think it's a hoot, and I can recognize and  laugh at people's ignorance....but can understand why some would.  You can think whatever you want, but shouldn't be spewing this kind of nonsense when trying to appeal to the masses for ratings.....better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to speak out and remove all doubt.  :) 

deedrag
deedrag

@vinoa@deedrag Yep, sad is right. I think we are too Politically correct sometimes. That's what i like about this site, you guys couldn't give a shit. You'll straight shoot with me, no bull.

vinoa
vinoa

@Murph2417 @Mcost61 Yeah have you seen Dion's closet? Just when I was starting to think that these poor hockey players are severely underpaid for pro athletes!!

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Xxxxxnew great question.. 1 regulation win in 15 games?   they do not want to.. lines?  favourites?  something..

deedrag
deedrag

@wendelsway1@deedrag You are correct, they are PROFESSIONAL hockey players and as such should show it. This is their chosen profession that they get paid for. And yes in the real world they would've been fired after a good riming in front of others.

deedrag
deedrag

@-Keon- LOL.CBC should've made a KID'S KORNER for hockey. Get the next generation hooked.

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

@Leafs rule @Xxxxxnew People were saying Caryle out coached Boston in the playoffs.


I just want to win and we are losing right now. A lot of times when a new coach comes in, it lights a fire under the team and they win for a stretch. I think fans just want to see our team with that fire lit again, no matter what it takes.

JWaterdrager
JWaterdrager

@CanuckUKinToronto @Xxxxxnew Give it some time. This season is characterised by new players, injuries, suspensions and a different playing style. Can't expect a smooth and succesful season.

deedrag
deedrag

@Alec Brownscombe@Yaknowwhat True Alec but i see RC getting cornered here and the sad thing is if they do there's no one out there right now as a good replacement.

vinoa
vinoa

@deedrag @Yaknowwhat Except Wilson got the team that he wanted but still threw Burke under the bus when he couldn't turn things around. Hopefully Carlyle's a bit more diplomatic in his approach when it comes to assigning blame.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Ron was here four seasons. Carlyle has only been here a half season last year and not even a half season this year.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I've seen this so often over the past half century I've come to believe there's a Toronto syndrome where players who end up here are treated like gods everywhere they go and their focus drifts. One coach is telling you you have to do a better job back checking while millions of people are worshiping you telling you how great you are.

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

@JWaterdrager @wendelsway1 @deedrag Don't really give a flying fig about Grabo and MacA......and this is coming from a huge Grabo fan.....They are no longer Leafs and there is nothing we can do to change it.  Tired of talking about it.

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Tim Horton@Leafs rule@XxxxxnewI see that Tim and understand but RC has only had a year  approx to be successful ,we have been waiting how long ? lol,we should be able to wait another 3-4 yrs to get to the finals imo without putting to much added  pressure on the team ,the evil media does enough of that already as well as the players themselves

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Hire a new coach every 100 games!

deedrag
deedrag

@Yaknowwhat@deedrag I get scared when i hear the GM trying to calm the waters. It makes me think the coach is not getting thru.