Throughout their history, the Leafs have made only four coaching changes after March 1st. Hopefully, this one was a winning one. If Carlyle—s first game is any indication, he—s exactly what this team needed. He won the battle of the Randys.
1 — The Leafs are 30-28-7 and we saw everything we needed to see tonight. A tight game in which we played better defense and let the chances come naturally. Let—s see if we see more of this against the tough opponents coming up this week.
2 — After two adventurous plays by Gustavsson, who looked like a train wreck early (nerves wise), Erik Cole scores to make it 1-0 Montreal. Can—t fault Gus on that goal. Schenn and Frattin collided and that made Luke miss his coverage in front of the net on Desharnais, who found Cole for the empty cage.
3 — Carlyle was very vocal after the first goal and throughout the game. Loved that. I think the best time to coach guys is during the game, while the consequences of a good or bad play are still fresh. Brown and Staubitz fought right after and this was a really solid bout. Both scrappers getting solid punches in.
4 — Gus— big poke check in the first period seemed to calm everyone down and the Leafs started playing better after that.
5 — Matt Frattin played another solid game, tying it after making a great read. Grabo tied this man on the faceoff dot, Frattin jumped in and showed his great shot to beat Price top shelf.
6 — Better zone exits, more composure on the defensive end (outside of the escapades of Gus and Schenn), and overall a more structured game. It—s too early to tell if those were direct consequences of Carlyle—s early days (or hours) with the team but it—s a step in the right direction.
7 — Looks like Carlyle likes Frattin. That—s good if, like me, you like Frattin—s game. Frattin plays the style of game that benefits this team. Simplifies things, gets shots off, uses his body and has underrated skill. Expect that Frattin – Grbaovski – MacArthur line to stay in tact. One other simple thing I noticed was the parallel passing between D men, waiting for a weaker side to open and then making simple breakout passes which lead to fewer turnovers. We seemed to be more patient with the breakout pass tonight.
8 — Burke and Carlyle have always been a matching pair in terms of their predilection for size in the lineup. You could see it tonight with Carlyle promoting Steckel and the fact Rosehill is on re-entry waivers right now. The team finished most of their checks tonight and every player tried to add to that aspect of their game. Sure, one can argue that it was expected given they are battling for jobs under the new boss, but that all stems from a boss that demands that kind of game.
9 — MacArthur makes a sweet pass to Grabo for his first goal since January 31st. Saved it for the Habs. Wonderful! Another Grabo goal came on the PP after an equally sweet pass from Frattin. Where were those goals in the post-game highlight reel, Don Cherry?
10 — The team played with desperation late in the game, and really dug in deep for Carlyle. Lupul was blocking shots, the team actually played team defense and Gus made some key stops. On to greener pastures!