BY: Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
For the second time in less than two weeks, the Leafs are in the middle of a ‘break’ from games and that is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on what line players play on.
Thanks in no small part to several injuries that are really going to test the character of each and every player, nobody gets it easy from the coach.
“We’ve tried to spread more of our wealth of skill around,” says Head Coach Randy Carlyle this morning at practice at the MasterCard Centre.
“It’s always a challenge as a coaching staff to put your group together and maintain the same people so you can have continuity through injuries and sometimes it’s the lack of success or not the right feel that (make you) make changes.”
Carlyle urged all of his defencemen to take more shots on goal — the latest area to be targetted as the club as a whole tries to establish an identity.
Leaf blue-liners haven’t fired away from the point as often as Carlyle would like, and have accounted for just three goals this season.
“I don’t think we shoot the puck enough from the point,” Carlyle said. “We keep saying we aren’t trying to score goals from there as much as we are trying to get shots on net, to give forwards the opportunity to score goals from in tight.”
In today’s skate, Joffrey Lupul, Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk skated on the top line. Mason Raymond, Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin made up the second line.
Absent from those names of course are David Bolland and Tyler Bozak.
“With the number of changes that we’ve had, specifically in the first 15 games, it’s been very difficult to stay with the same groupings,” says Carlyle.
The majority of the muscle on the team finds itself on the fourth line. Colton Orr, Jerred Smithson and Frazer McLaren skated on that line. Carlyle said he liked the physicality they played with in Boston even though Orr was a healthy scratch.
“The Boston game was probably one of the more physical games we’ve played in all year.
I liked our forecheck after the first period, and again, you never like to be the bearer of bad news as a coaching staff.”
Leafs practiced Tuesday at MasterCard Centre prior to departing for a two-game road trip to Minnesota and Buffalo.
Tyler Bozak skated prior to the main group as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He is not eligible to come off IR until November 21st.
According to Carlyle, Bozak could skate with the main group as early as this Saturday.
practice video with Carlyle, Joffrey Lupul. Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Carter Ashton and Cody Franson.
Part of the problem over the past several games is with the defencemen, Carlyle suggested, noting that he believes the blueliners need to shoot the puck more.
I don’t think we shoot the puck enough from the point, personally.”
Carlyle says most people say the point of the point shot is to score goals. That is not correct, he says.
“You are not trying to score goals from there all the time, your job is to get the puck on net. Get the forwards a second opportunity to get a rebound and score from in tight.
It’s dangerous to get the puck waist high (on point shots due to injury factor).”
LEAF PRACTICE LINES TODAY
1st line: Lupul, Van Riemsdyk, Kessel
2nd line: Raymond, Kadri, Kulemin
3rd line: Ashton, McClement, Clarkson
4th line: Orr, Smithson, McLaren
EXTRAS: Troy Bodie
Pair 1: Phaneuf, Gunnarsson
Pair 2: Gardiner, Franson
Pair 3: Ranger, Fraser
EXTRAS: Liles, Rielly