Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/25/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Randy Carlyle knows the city and its arena well, having spent the majority of his NHL playing days and his formative coaching years here.
Still, the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs was looking for something on Friday at the MTS Centre.
A reset button.
Carlyle's Leafs, riding a six-game winning streak, inexplicably crashed and burned on Thursday night, losing 7-1 in Dallas to the Stars.
"We have to have a reset button here for today and hopefully we're able to flush what we did last night, or what we didn't do, a better way to describe it," Carlyle said after a Friday morning flight to the Manitoba capital and an hour-long session on the ice.
Tonight, the Leafs meet the Jets (6 p.m., CBC, TSN 1290) for their fourth game in six days.
The coach said Thursday's result wasn't shocking considering the number of scoring chances his team surrendered, quite a few more than the hoped-for 12-15.
"Then it's going to be a long night and we proved that to ourselves last night," he said. "We were softer on the puck. We didn't stop; we did more circling and we didn't stop and compete on pucks (which) is necessary to have success in the NHL."
Despite Thursday's lopsided loss, the Leafs find themselves in decent shape in the Eastern Conference.
Their 59 points on a 27-21-5 mark, is fifth and above the playoff line, though the race from the No. 4 slot to the No. 14 slot shows a difference of just 10 points.
And though their goals-against numbers aren't stellar -- their 163 as of Friday was second-highest in the east, and the team's 2.93 average was 26th overall -- the Leafs seem to have gotten much mileage out of netminders Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, the Morweena, Man., product.
"I think like anybody, if you check the stats in the league, the goaltenders are always prominent on the teams that have success," Carlyle said. "If you look at the team here in Winnipeg, I would say everybody is looking at (Ondrej) Pavelec's play being pretty good for that hockey club over the last four, five games. And we're no different.
"Obviously there are times we've put too much emphasis on our goaltending and they've been forced to stop too many pucks. But the reality is that in the NHL, to have success, unless you have quality goaltending, you don't even have a chance. You don't even have a starting point."
Included in Toronto's recent winning streak were victories Monday in Phoenix and Tuesday in Denver.
"Doesn't matter who your goalie is and what kind of season he's having, there's going to be nights when pucks find their way in," Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said Friday. "Dallas, I thought, on a lot of those goals made really good shots. Again, we're certainly in no position to blame our goaltending because it's probably been our strongest point this year."
Asked for an observation on tonight's opponents and their new coach, Carlyle was frank.
"That's the crazy thing about sports" Carlyle said. "It's the same group of players."
NOTES: Winnipeg had the edge in last season's three games, 2-1-0 to 1-1-1... As always, Carlyle had questions about returning to his long-time home and his coaching start with the Manitoba Moose. "In the big picture, that was all the start of the seed to grow a franchise here ready for the NHL," he said. "Once the affiliation with Vancouver was put together (2001) and I actually stepped out of the coaching, I knew there was going to be a seed planted at that time. That was the start, in earnest, of acquiring an NHL franchise. I knew that. Mark Chipman knew that. Craig Heisinger knew that. Nobody else knew that at that time."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 25, 2014 C4
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