LOS ANGELES – The Maple Leafs have lost two of their first three games under interim head coach Peter Horachek, but the progress
LOS ANGELES – The Maple Leafs have lost two of their first three games under interim head coach Peter Horachek, but the progressin Herzlich willkommen! 27.01.2018 07:36
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LOS ANGELES – The Maple Leafs have lost two of their first three games under interim head coach Peter Horachek, but the progress they’ve shown in those nine periods of hockey is hard to ignore. John Danks Jersey . Toronto gave up a goal 37 seconds into a heavyweight affair with the Kings, but next to nothing in the 59 minutes after that. They held L.A. to only 20 shots, giving up neither the high quantity, nor the high quality of chances that had been so typical under Randy Carlyle’s leadership of nearly three seasons. It was a loss – the ninth in 12 games for the Leafs – but it felt different for an encouraged group in the Toronto dressing room at Staples Center. “You’ve just got to get comfortable playing that way,” Horachek said of a stingier brand of hockey following a 2-0 defeat, just the third time the Leafs have been shutout this season. “You’re going to be in more games and you’re going to take advantage of teams that don’t play that way more often because you’re playing harder. Really, it comes down to we’re working harder, we’re giving up less chances and sometimes it may feel like it’s harder [to play that way], but it’s making strides.” Team president Brendan Shanahan circled possession and team defence as the two troubling pillars he was looking to see improved under Horachek’s direction. The earliest indications are positive on both fronts. The Leafs have given up an average of 22 shots in Horachek’s three games behind the bench, holding the opposition to two goals or fewer in each of the past two. They’ve resembled a more structured body, stood toe to toe in that possession game, and been less prone to extended stretches in the defensive zone. They’ve also put significantly less weight on the shoulders of Jonathan Bernier. It’s early still, but the first strides under Horachek have been encouraging. “If you cut down those shots from 40 to 20 you’re going to get a lot less [quality chances against],” Bernier said. “We gave up a few two-on-one’s, but other than that we were very solid I thought. “We’ll take that loss because I thought we deserved better.” The Leafs were at the mercy of the Kings early, feeling the venom of a club that entered the night with five losses in the previous six games. They gave up a goal to Anze Kopitar in the first minute, but regained their footing by the end of that first frame and into the final 40 minutes. In the end, the Leafs just couldn’t find a way to beat Martin Jones. Nazem Kadri rung a shot off the bar; Richard Panik had a couple quality chances turned down; James van Riemsdyk had a fine opportunity turned aside by Mike Richards’s strong defensive work in front. Three power-play opportunities also yielded nothing. But rather than sacrifice defence to get those chances offensively, the Leafs stuck to the structured game Horachek has pushed since he relieved Carlyle a week ago. They turned the puck over less, grinded more shifts in the offensive zone and held stingy in their positioning. “We kept playing the same way,” said an encouraged Stephane Robidas afterward. “We didn’t try to open the gates and try and play shinny hockey or open-ice hockey. We kept it simple and we came up short, but there’s a lot of positives I think from that game.” Monday marked the start of Toronto’s most challenging road trip of the season, a four-game swing through heavyweights in L.A., Anaheim, San Jose and then back east for a Saturday date in St. Louis. A trip like that can batter a team, but more of the recent same will give the former high-wire act from Toronto a fighting chance at the very least. “If it was 40 shots against then you’re saying, ‘Listen, this is not a successful way of playing, but I believe that, if we’re doing more of what we did tonight and capitalize on our chances, we’re going to have more success,” Horachek concluded. Five Points 1. Temperament James van Riemsdyk described Horachek as a more of an easygoing personality behind the bench as compared to the often fiery and tightly wound Carlyle. “More of a calmness back there,” van Riemsdyk said. “We know what we need to do and he’s great about teaching and showing guys the right way to do things and, when we make mistakes, showing it in a way that is constructive and I think guys are responding well to that.” Horachek has offered a different perspective than Carlyle, who guided van Riemsdyk for the first 168 games of his ongoing Toronto tenure. “Pete’s done a good job of communicating that with us and we’ve done a good job so far of buying into that, van Riemsdyk continued. And we just need to do that consistently and we’ll have some success. As far as communicating and knowing what to expect and being approachable, he’s great with all that. There’s definitely a different environment and feel that we have right now in the room.” 2. Fresh Start? Never in an NHL career that spans nine seasons has David Booth played as little as this season. Booth has been mostly an afterthought on Toronto’s fourth line, playing less than 10 minutes per game with not a lick of power-play time. He’s scored just a single goal in 22 games, a far cry from the player who scored 20 goals three times and 31 in just his third NHL season. “I don’t think I’m in a position to score goals right now,” Booth said Monday morning, more wise than bitter about his current place in Toronto’s pecking order. “You have to respect the role that you’re given,” he continued. “I’ll continue to work hard. I still believe I can score in this league. And that’s ultimately your goal every shift is to outplay the other team and try to score. That’s just a tougher way to do it with certain roles.” Booth missed the first 21 games of the season with a broken foot and, once behind, could never catch back up in the graces of the since-deposed Carlyle. He isn’t looking at Horachek’s ascendance, however, as a fresh start. “I don’t think you need a new coach for that,” Booth said. “I’ve always taken a perspective that every day is a new fresh start. What’s happened in the past doesn’t matter anymore, if it’s good or bad … I don’t think it takes a new coach to say this is a fresh start. I think that it’s just a mindset that you have to take in everyday, what an opportunity each day presents.” “Coaches make those decisions as to who they think is going to have the best chance of success for our team, he went on. I’ve never gave up, never quit and I don’t think I ever will. You just keep working at it everyday, control the things you can control – what you work on, how hard you work, how you take care of your body, what kind of lifestyle you lead - those are things you can control. And when you’re given an opportunity, you better be prepared, better be ready.” Booth got a longer look against the Kings due to a second period shoulder injury to Leo Komarov. He played a season-high of 15 minutes. 3. Star Player, New Coach On his expectations of Phil Kessel upon taking charge, Horachek said, “All offensive guys sometimes have a little leeway, but they still have to fit into the team structure.” “Wayne Gretzky wasn’t held at the same accord as somebody else, it’s never been that way, he continued. But what you have to do is you have to get them more on board and playing the team system and doing some of the things that the other guys are doing. Everybody has to be held accountable to a certain degree.” Kessel, who was named to his third All-Star team over the weekend, said his conversations with Horachek have been “all positive”. 4. Booth II Booth has a history of success with the man advantage – scoring 11 times in 2008-09 – but the Leafs have yet to find him any power-play time at all, despite a second unit that’s done next to nothing. Booth’s scant production at even-strength doesn’t offer him much of a leg to stand on (his possession numbers are strong relative to his teammates), but his skill, at the very least, would offer an upgrade to David Clarkson, who has just a single power-play point all season. “It’s tough generating offence when you’re not on the power-play,” Booth said. “When you’re on the power-play, you generate the offensive zone feel, you generate the confidence to play in the other team’s zone and that stuff just leads to other opportunities.” Booth has begun to kill penalties under Horachek, teaming with Trevor Smith on Toronto’s second unit. 5. Patience The Leafs triggered a provision in William Nylander’s contract on Monday morning that allowed him to return from the Swedish Hockey League and join the Marlies. The deadline to do so was January 16. Nylander, who put up eight goals and 20 points in 21 games for MODO, won’t be joining the Leafs anytime soon, though. Patience in development appears to be the approach of Toronto’s revamped management team, led by former Detroit Red Wing Brendan Shanahan. “Right now, there’s not a chance,” assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said of Nylander playing in the NHL this season. “We need to be patient, develop him properly and have him be able to come up when he’s able to sustain being an NHL player versus come up and then go back down and just be more scattered than his season already has been.” As to the development curve with a prospect pool that also features Connor Brown, who leads the Marlies with 29 points, Dubas again spoke to patience. “It’s to be patient with these guys and make sure that we’re maximizing their development in the AHL before we throw them off the deep-end here,” said Dubas. “We want them to be able to come up and be able to contribute where their skill level dictates versus bring them in and throw them into a different role and say ‘Okay, now work your way up.” Nylander is likely to make his Marlies debut on Jan. 23 in Hamilton. Stats-Pack 22 – Shots against average for the Leafs in three games under Peter Horachek. 1 – Goal in the past 16 games for David Clarkson. 9 – Fights for the Leafs this season, third-fewest in the NHL. 15:00 – Ice-time for David Booth against the Kings, a season-high. 7-9-3 – Leafs road record this season. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-3 Season: 20.3% (10th) PK: 2-2 Season: 82.3% (11th) Quote of the Night “We’ll take that loss because I thought we deserved better.” -Jonathan Bernier, following the 2-0 loss to the Kings. Up Next The Leafs visit the Ducks on Wednesday night. Tyler Flowers Jersey . Sterling was banned for life and fined US$2.5 million by the NBA on Tuesday for racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation. Nash, who plays for the rival L.A. Lakers, spoke as a representative of current NBA players at a press conference assembled by Sacramento mayor and National Basketball Players Association adviser Kevin Johnson. Nick Markakis Jersey .C. -- Benn Ferrieros familiar with scoring important goals, just not in back-to-back games. http://www.bravesapparelsshop.com/babe-ruth-jersey-c-6/ . The thinking at the time was Clowney could have already been promised he would be selected first overall by the Houston Texans, therefore negating any need to meet with any other teams. The plot took another twist this week.New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Hockey League issued a two- game suspension to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson on Tuesday. Johnson was given a minor penalty for delivering a clear two-handed slash to the left hand of Islanders forward Frans Nielsen during the third period of a 5-2 Avs victory at Uniondale on Saturday night. He wiill miss Colorados first two games after the Olympic break, Feb. Jamie Garcia Jersey. 26 against Los Angeles and Feb. 28 against Phoenix. Johnson will also forfeit $38,461.54 in salary, which goes to the Players Emergency Assistance Fund. 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