During Randy Carlyle’s time in Toronto he has repeatedly said that he will use offensive players in offensive roles and defensive players in defensive roles in order to maximize their effectiveness. It was a point that was reinforced last week upon the arrival of Peter Holland. At that time Carlyle stated that Holland was an offensive guy and you don’t bring a guy like Holland in and play him on the third line. This thinking is also a main reason why I believe Jake Gardiner was a healthy scratch last season. Carlyle felt the Leafs top 4 were set and therefore he didn’t want to put a player like Gardiner in his bottom pairing. In Carlyle’s eyes players like Mike Kostka and Ryan O’Byrne were better suited to that role.
Needless to say, the more talent that is in the lineup the better a teams chances are of winning. Meaning, a lineup with Gardiner in it over O’Byrne or Kostka is more likely to succeed than the other way around. Selecting a lineup by slotting in players to play specific roles is a method of thinking that fails to work in the new NHL. Unfortunately, it is a system that Carlyle firmly believes in.
Last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was a perfect example of Carlyle’s ideal lineup. With the return of Tyler Bozak last night Carlyle had a few options. Instead of icing the most talented 12 forwards, Carlyle decided that he needed to remove Holland because he did not suit playing in a bottom six role and instead played Jay McClement on the third line and iced a fourth line of Frazer McLaren, Jerred Smithson and Colton Orr. Holland (or Trevor Smith and Carter Ashton for that matter) would have all provided the Leafs with a better chance of competing. Instead, Carlyle stubbornly dressed a lineup that included four one-dimensional players: two fighter only pieces in Orr and McLaren and two penalty killing specialists in McClement and Smithson. Carlyle decided against having a lineup that could competently ice wave after wave of attacking pressure. In his mind certain players weren’t capable of being in the lineup because the spot available wasn’t appropriate to their game.
Carlyle has been frustrated all season with how his team competes but perhaps the mirror may be a better place for the Leafs bench boss to look when seeking an outlet for criticism. Someone needs to sit Randy down and tell him that he can’t dress that lineup and then say this following the game:
Randy Carlyle: "It just seemed like we lacked the necessary pace that was required to compete in the game and that’s mind-boggling."
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) November 26, 2013
Should a player like McClement or Smithson be in the lineup to kill an important penalty or win a big faceoff? Absolutely. That is what a fourth line is for. However, having players that will create offense and be able to contribute in all situations sit in the press box because they’re not a bottom 6 guy is moronic and counterproductive. Carlyle learned last spring against the Boston Bruins that the Leafs are at their best when they have three solid offensive lines rolling. Frustratingly for many fans, the pieces are in place for him to use. Instead, Carlyle willfully decides to play a worse team. Here’s a free one Randy, next time you need to fill out the lineup card write in these names:
Van Riemsdyk – Kadri – Kessel
Lupul – Holland – Clarkson
Raymond – Bozak – Kulemin
Ashton – McClement – Smithson
Give it a shot, it can’t be worse than what you wrote in last night.