James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail spoke with Scott Gordon, one of the assistant coaches the Toronto Maple Leafs fired last week. The interview covered a wide range of topics including head coach Randy Carlyle’s relationship with Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri, the changes the coaches tried to implement throughout the year, and the leadership ability of captain Dion Phaneuf.
One of the most frustrating things about the interview is Gordon, along with the other coaches, obviously knew they had a big problem with the way the team was playing. Everybody knows it’s never a good thing to give up 30-40 shots or more on almost a nightly basis. The problem was they couldn’t find a solution. If that isn’t a testament to Carlyle’s failures, I don’t know what is.
Tyler Dellow of mc79hockey took a look at Leafs zone entries after neutral zone faceoffs and found they were able to generate many more carry-ins and shot attempts with Jake Gardiner on the ice, especially after the Olympic break. He also put together an intriguing video looking at the play of Leafs defensemen after a neutral-zone draw was won back to them. Basically, Gardiner and Cody Franson were much more likely to pass back and forth to create space for a carry-in, while the rest of the Leafs d-men would just dump the puck in or try a low-percentage stretch pass.
Jerry D’Amigo of the Toronto Marlies has an interesting tendency to see his point-per-game average rise considerably when he gets to the playoffs. It’s hard to know whether or not those numbers are just a fluke, but one thing’s for sure, he’s definitely making his presence felt in the AHL. As Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star writes, he looks like he’s ready to step in and be a full-time contributor with the Leafs next season.
Centre Peter Holland, another Marlie poised to make the jump to the big club, returned from injury in time for the second-round series against the Chicago Wolves and already has four points in two games, both Marlies wins. Kyle Cicerella has more on a player who wants to be known as a guy who can play in all situations.