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December 20, 2013 7:19 am

The clip this week comes courtesy of aarondesmarais

This Herm Edwards rant from years back has been sticking in my head for awhile now. If I remember correctly, Edwards was being criticized for attempting a two point conversion off of a touchdown late in a game instead of kicking the point after attempt. Edwards decided to forego kicking for one point (which would have tied said game) and looked to win the game right there had they converted the more risky play. Edwards’ explanation was perfect.

This is relevant to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sense that Randy Carlyle does not play to win the game, he plays to not lose. We all know the cliche that ‘safe is death’, right? Somebody might need to pass that information off to Randy. The Leafs last night attempted to sit on a 1-0 lead for over 40 minutes. To the surprise of no one, they coughed that lead up. The Leafs coughed up a lead? What a surprise! Not the first time we’ve seen this show before. Happened against Washington, Dallas, Ottawa and Pittsburgh recently (happened in Boston when the weather was nice awhile back too).

The fact is, if you play a game where one mistake (Carl Gunnarsson’s giveaway or Jay McClement’s inability to clear the puck) or a bad bounce (Alex Ovechkin’s goal against the Leafs last month) could potentially derail your success, then your strategy is flawed. Carlyle has repeatedly preached that the most productive way to protect a lead is to play in the other teams’ zone. Actions speak louder than words though Randy. Just looking at last night, here is the ice time that the Leaf centres received through sixty minutes: McClement – 20:09, Nazem Kadri – 17:04 and Peter Holland – 15:13. McClement has become Carlyle’s top pivot. Disregard in what order the lines are presented to you either on twitter or in the in game broadcast. Deployment defines the order, not words on paper. So, does Carlyle honestly think that the Leafs checking line is better suited to attack and create sustained offensive zone time in order to protect the lead? Did it shock anyone that McClement was once again on the ice for a goal against (Carlyle needs to stop trusting him as his shut-down centre)?

The criticisms can be launched at the Leafs’ lack of scoring:

However, the blame deserves to lie at the feet of the man who taps the players on the shoulder. It’s hard to play backs against the wall hockey for the majority of the game and then try to turn it on once offense is desperately needed. Edwards said it best: you don’t play to tie, you play to win. You can’t win if your objective is to protect.

Have a safe and happy weekend

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  • Killawatt

    McClement’s FO% last night 69%. See Kadri’s? It was 20%. And yet, McClement had ZERO offensive zone draws, while, despite being shit on the draw, Kadri had almost all the offensive zone draws. Is this the wrong approach? Who would you want taking a draw in the neutral or defensive zone in a tight game? Is using the guy with 69% over the guy who was 20% playing it “safe”? Come on…

    Looking at the game, the shots, and the TOI breakdowns, I see no evidence of any playing not to lose on the Leafs part. The Leafs biggest period for shots on net was the 3rd period. Gardiner played almost half the 3rd period (more than Phaneuf) and over 2 minutes of OT. JVR played a ton in the 3rd as did Clarkson who had some jam last night. Kessel, Lupul, all had solid 3rd period minutes while the Leafs 4th line played nothing.

    You know who didn’t play a lot in the 3rd? Morgan Rielly. Which could be translated as “Carlyle playing it safe”, but then Rielly played as much as Kessel and Kadri did in the OT period (just under 2 minutes), so I guess with a point in the bag Carlyle did actually try to put his high risk high reward players out there “trying to win”.

    I understand the frustration with Carlyle from people, or at least respect the opinion, but this post today is confirmation bias at work man. Come on.

    • hope_smoke

      Thanks for the comment

  • hope_smoke_bias

    Hey hope_smoke,

    Why don’t you let the professionals figure out their slump woes and get back to it. Jesus Christ, it’s a third into the season and this team has been thrown to the dogs by the media and posts like these.

    They’re not playing their best hockey, but the onus is on the players to get out of it. Carlyle coached them into the playoffs last year, and I think he can do it again. Sure it was a 48 game season but how many games are left in the season? Approximately that

    P.S. Stick to facts, the bias running in this post isn’t good “journalism”

    • hope_smoke

      Thanks for the comment. Nice username.

    • theconrod

      “Carlyle coached them into the playoffs last year”

      Wow. I suppose this is accurate if you mean he was the coach when they made the playoffs…..

      They made it on superb goaltending and SH%. Good thing those are all so very repeatable…. Oh wait. Shocking that when they regress, the team cannot compete.

      Fire Carlyle before more changes are made that have even longer lasting effects on the team.

  • Zee Executioner

    Hope, I will grant you that the Leafs are playing like crap. It is disappointing at this stage.

    However, why fans, as yourselves, assume that scapegoating the coach is going to change things is beyond me. Coaches can prepare their team until blue in the face, but it’s up to the players to figure it out and execute.

    • theconrod

      If I were the coach, and had my goaltender play 1C, whose fault is it when my team cannot score, and we let in 5 goals a game?

      Using the players you have improperly is the coach’s fault. This team does not have the player types that Carlyle wishes it has. Even if it did, there is debate if his style could still win in the NHL as it’s played currently.

      The coach’s job is to use his players to their strengths, shelter their weaknesses, and figure out why certain things are working or not working. He is incapable of doing so. All he says is “Try harder, make less mistakes”.

      He implements a system/set of players that bogs the team in their own zone. It is by sheer luck that a team that is this poorly played wins.

      This is on the coach.

      • Zee Executioner

        If you had your goaltender play 1C? Huh?

        Just to skip over the pieties you wrote, Brian Burke (who assembled much of this squad) said recently that the basic blueprint for Stanley Cup success in today’s NHL is his 2007 Ducks team. As you know, Carlyle coached that team.

        The idea that his system is what will cost this team a chance at success is a fallacy bordering on pure idiocy.

        Look, I understand you cannot be happy with the team’s record, now, but I’m more inclined to think that in the long run there is a method to Carlyle’s madness and, when it’s most critical, he will adapt to this particular team’s strengths and weaknesses in a manner that best marries with his personal hockey philosophy, which is much more informed than yours unless your name is Scotty Bowman or Ray Shero (or someone of that ilk).

        • theconrod

          Nice appeal to authority.
          And to state it’s not his system? You’ve obviously looked into his system? Seen that it works? Because people have. And it’s laughable. People with experience at the elite level have looked at it and laughed. This is not complicated.

          So the blueprint for a successful team is top 5 goaltender, 3 HHOF defensemen, and a SECOND line that had Bobby Ryan/Selanne/Bertuzzi/McDonald. Dammit, why didn’t I think of that!

          • Zee Executioner

            Who are you talking about? First of all, you suppose the Leafs are not playing to their potential due to Carlyle’s system? I don’t believe that for a second, and, yes, you need talent to win.

            Who has scoffed at Carlyle’s system?

            Do you play in the NHL?

            I’m not appealing to any authority. I’m just stating that the facts are Carlyle has proven to be a competent coach. A hall of famer? No, probably not. Competent? Yes.

            If you think a new coach will fix this thing, you’re deluded.

          • theconrod

            Bourne over at the score, if you’re looking for an analyst. He was amazed at the idiotic things that carlyle has had them do.

            Secondly how about both MacArthur and Grabovski. Two players who have PLAYED for him. Or Bobby Ryan. There’s three players you would certainly not want to play for your team.

            And the moment that Carlyle left the Ducks, their possession improved. They were able to reduce the shots against, and improve their shots for. This is reality.

            The only time he won anything was with an all star team, but sure he’s proven himself.

          • Zee Executioner

            Look, my response was deleted. I don’t know why. It was polite.

          • theconrod

            In any case, I was where you are now not that long ago. It’s been looking at the information available that has changed my mind drastically. It’s rather shocking.

            With that all said, Merry Christmas, and enjoy your time with family and friends!

          • Zee Executioner

            Are you shocked that Bobby Ryan (the only star player on your list) has stated that, in hindsight, Randy made him a better player. Shocking!

            Justin Bourne, I like, but he’s no analyst any more or less than you or I.

            Happy Christmas