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:
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been held to one goal in regulation in four of the last six games. That is … probably … not … awesome.
— SeanFitz_Gerald (@SeanFitz_Gerald) December 20, 2013
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