Sunday, January 28, 2007

Leafs 'simplifying' their D

I don't know why, but I've been waiting for a major media outlet to bring this up, because it is the BOTTOM LINE for the Leafs: Simplifying their D. Any Leaf fan with any bit of hockey sense has already figured that out. Sportsnet has written a little piece about it today, and I find myself saying "AMEN!" like the old days in the Pentecostal Church.

TORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs returned from the all-star break with one of their better defensive efforts of the season and it's that kind of hockey they'll need to keep playing to have a chance of reaching the post-season.

They stifled the Montreal Canadiens in a 4-1 win Saturday night, taking a fewer chances and making life easier on goalie Andrew Raycroft.

"More simple, not more conservative. A more simple game," said Leafs head coach Paul Maurice. "We don't have to make a breakaway pass every time we touch the puck. So much of our problems comes from turnovers when we're trying to force plays. ...

"I thought our defence looked faster, moved quicker, was more sure of themselves," added Maurice. "And on the other hand I thought our forwards were more patient in our end of the ice, they weren't running and chasing as much."

Hey, Vancouver fans know what it's like, don't we? I thought that under Paul Maurice that the Leafs would have played a tighter defensive style right out of the starting gate this season. But that wasn't the case.
The Canucks bought into Vigneault's system really easily. Will the Leafs? Answer: yes and no. I think we'll see glimpses of it and then they'll revert to their old ways. There are a few too may run and gun defencemen in TO still, like Kaberle, White and McCabe. I'm not sure that McCabe and Kaberle know how to rush up the ice with enough common sense to not get caught in the other zone. Blame Pat Quinn for that. This team is still in Pat Quinn Mode.
If they play more often like they did against the Habs last night, and buy into Maurice's system, we should see a resurgence in Toronto. But will it happen? I'm skeptical.

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Waiting For Stanley was created in June 2006.