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Was I wrong about the Reimer-Bernier “duo”?

Prior to and throughout the 2013-’14 NHL season, I spent considerable time sharing my thoughts on what I saw as the untenable nature of the then proposed Maple Leaf goaltending tandem of Jonathan Bernier and incumbent James Reimer.

My concern was not that I believed Bernier to be a less than stellar netminder, but rather that I didn’t believe that it would be a workable situation overall—especially for Reimer.  Having two relatively young (now 26) goalies that both wanted to play a lot was not, to me, a viable plan.  The notion of them pushing one another was great on the one hand, but I saw it as inevitable that Reimer would find his new situation unacceptable.

I still believe there was logic in my view, especially given comments made by Tim Leiweke in the summer of 2013 about Reimer being “the guy we inherited”.  It was clear from the get go that Bernier, with a new contract in hand, was not coming here to be a back-up, or even to share time. He was here to be the guy in goal, which had to be unsettling for Reimer.

Early on last season, the Bernier-Reimer combination looked promising indeed, as both played very well for the most part.  But before long, Reimer had a couple of tough outings, Carlyle pulled him a few times and Reimer’s confidence was seemingly not what it needed to be for him to play his best.

Also, as the season wore on, Reimer went long stretches without seeing the net, and while he played quite well at first (the game in LA comes to mind) when Bernier was hurt late in the season, he faltered a bit and the Leafs fell out of the playoff picture—through there were plenty of other issues beyond goaltending at the time.

Fast forward to the present:  Reimer signed a modest contract extension this past summer.  Bernier is still the undisputed number-one here, but I wonder if Reimer is more at peace with his role this time around.  While in his own mind he is perhaps still fighting to be number one, it’s clear the brass sees Bernier in that role.

Yet most nights this season when he has had an opportunity to play, Reimer has stepped in and played pretty darn well.  While mostly solid, he did not have to be especially eye-popping through most of his earlier starts. But things turned for him as the ice tilted in the third period against the Blackhawks at the ACC on Saturday night.  Reimer was the “good” Reimer of old, making tough saves, keeping his team in the game and getting better as the game went on.

Rather than fighting the puck, he seemed confident. He battled to find the puck and played with authority.  And while he still gave up some juicy rebounds to the hungry Chicago forwards (and they did seem to have more guys on the ice than us through most of the final twenty minutes), he handled things awfully well.  He made all the saves you expect your goalie to make in a close game, but he also provided a few heart-stoppers in there as well.

So now I’m left to wonder: was I in fact wrong about the concerns I expressed last season, and throughout this past summer?  Was I off base to suggest that Reimer needed a fresh start somewhere else (e.g. Winnipeg?), that he would benefit from going to a team where the organization would appreciate what he was, rather than criticize what he wasn’t?

I still am not sure I know the answer, in part because exactly a year ago, many Leaf supporters also believed that the tandem approach would work just fine because it did seem to be working pretty well for a while.  But that line of thinking still assumes one of these guys can accept not being in goal anywhere near as much as he’d like to be.

The Leafs have only played eleven games this season.  Bernier was a little less than his standard self during his early games this season, but other than the game against Detroit last Saturday when his teammates struggled as well, he has been very strong in his last several starts.

As for Reimer, his performance against the Hawks may (emphasis on may) be the exact catalyst he needs to remind himself—as well as Carlyle, Leaf management and those Leaf fans who have precious little confidence in him—that he can still be a fine NHL goaltender. He showed that against some of the best shooters in the league Saturday night, in a game where, if Toronto had lost, we fans and media may well have shrugged and said, “same old Leafs”.

Maybe they are the same old Leafs. But just like a couple of losses trigger comments from most of us about all the flaws on the roster and behind the bench, a couple of wins—including one on the road and another against a Cup-caliber squad—may suggest the team is capable of doing something this season if everyone does their job…and, well, if the goalies stand on their head.

Will Bernier-Reimer be a winning combination long term?  I still don’t know, but at least for now, it’s uplifting to see the Leafs with two guys in goal who can steal a game—because goodness knows, we still have some challenges that will be a season-long project to deal with, I sense.

**

  • While I did not expect Carrick to be in the lineup, he brought some energy. Carlyle went with his regulars down the stretch, but it was good to see Carrick get a chance, albeit with very little ice time.
  • Komarov blocked what could have been a dangerous shot in the dying seconds. A lot of us missed what he brought last season and that was just one example of what he can deliver at key moments.
  • My guess is a lot of Leaf fans were happy to see Kadri and Kessel together still. Whether that will work over the long haul in terms of the overall balance of the forward lines, we’ll see.
  • I said during training camp I wanted to believe Clarkson would be a contributor this season—and he continues to be.  That was an untimely penalty he took late in the third period on Saturday night but it strikes me that he is closer to his old New Jersey self these days. Comfort and familiarity can make a difference.
  • Winnik continues to do little things that will help this roster over time. A plus 7 so far, his Anaheim experience should pay dividends and hopefully rub off on some teammates.
  • Holland scored what turned out to be the winning goal—that should be encouraging for the young Leaf forward who is working to earn his regular spot. (Over 16 minutes of ice time Saturday is a good sign, too…)
  • Lupul's absence is an opportunity for other Leafs to make an impression and push for ice time.
  • We still will need more from the fourth line.  The Leafs looked gassed in the third period and were mostly holding on.  I know they played on the road Friday night, but all the more reason Carlyle has to find guys for that line that he can put out there with confidence.



I guess the question now is, short term: can the Leafs build on this during a brief road trip through Colorado and Arizona?

37 comments:

  1. I think your position on the goaltending situation was borne out of a sense of the wrongs/sleights suffered by Reimer when Bernier was acquired. With any man of lesser character than James Reimer, I think your position was the best course... but, as we both know, he is a high quality individual all around.

    I previously noted that this works well for the Leafs, because they can 'leap-frog' the contracts with both goaltenders every other season and that serves to keep both at lower cap hits than may otherwise be the case. I wouldn't be surprised if January rolls around and the management tries to lock down Bernier for another couple of years (at a bit of an increase), then checks out the landscape in terms of trade options (whether we're in the playoff mix or not). You will notice I didn't say who might be traded, though I'm not certain either will be if my following comments are more tenable than theoretical!

    In any event, I think the new baby at home may have played into the decision to play Bernier on the road (where he may be able to sleep better). He hasn't played his best (despite the previous 2 games against lesser opponents), but he's still playing well. I just think James has managed to put himself back into the conversation, he sure played exceptionally well after a 2 week layoff - possibly proving his value as a strong backup or potential starter (with the Leafs or elsewhere).

    I also think the team may be paying a little more attention to which teams each goaltender may be better suited to play against. They may well have noted certain opponent tendencies that are better matchups for the two different skillsets.

    You weren't wrong that Reimer needed a fresh start, it was just the 'elsewhere' that has proven unnecessary... James 'reset' himself over the summer and recovered his perspective. A lesser man would have wallowed in the mire.

    I still agree that this is unlikely to be a long term arrangement with this caveat: If both goalies recognize they are at their best with a lesser workload AND the Leafs start to have some success, neither may want to depart from a winning organization. If both want/need more work to excel, then one will go, but I highly doubt it would be acrimonious.

    Appreciate your 'notes' as well, Michael. Hope we see a continuing commitment 'on the road' again...

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    1. You may well be right, InTimeFor62, that this arrangement can work for now. The Leafs may well try to extend Bernier's contract in the new year, and it won't hurt either to play well, eh? These are both competitive guys who should provide us with solid goaltending this year. There will be blips, but they have both shown they can bounce back.

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  2. Hi Michael,

    you wrote an article about our goalie tandem this past summer and I still support your view on this.
    This can be a problem long term in the room and one of them (Reimer?) won't be satisfied with a smaller role and it can cause problems.

    Bernier is 26, he has only played 125 NHL games and he is not a proven number one goalie.
    So the Leafs need a trustworthy number two. One who can win a few games and does not look out of place when he has to take over. If an old veteran who was a starter in the past would cause less problems?
    Then there was no market for goalies this summer. In other words there was no other way to go.
    I doubt this will be a long term solution. And I doubt this will work long term.

    You were right with your concerns.

    Same old Leafs:
    Something has to clear: We can not compare ourselves with Chicago. If we can beat a team like that,
    it won't be in another fashion like yesterday.


    - He only got 4 minutes but Carrick played well in that short time, so did Ashton surprisingly.
    It seems like some silver linings for the future.

    - It is a bit sad but Leo was over the last 11 games their best and most consistant player.

    - Kadri has to be productive on himself. There is no point that Kessel takes him on his shoulders and
    carries him through. Danger on the 2nd line is an issue and a big problem. Still the case for the
    Leafs: No Kessel, no wins.

    - It is still a bad case though. But he is much better this year.

    - Winnik was a very good signing for the Leafs.

    - He is better with more experienced line mates. As I said before you can not form a line of only
    unexpirienced players. I like his play a lot as I said multiple times before.

    - Lupuls absence is inevitable but not good for him and not good for the club.
    Kadri must be the guy to take over the 2nd line and make it his own. Away from Kessel.
    Bozak and JvR are not getting it done.
    If a young guy can make a case for himself. Good.

    - You can not form a 4th line of guys that are all not proven on this level. But Carlyle has no choice
    now. The way the team was constructed the 4 th line should have been a combination of Winnik,
    Komarov, Santorelli and Holland. But since the start, the 4th line is a cobination of Holland, Frattin,
    Panik, Kozun and Ashton. Not a good mixture.

    Both teams are not very good now and the Leafs should take advantage of that.







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    1. I think a lot of us feel the fourth line matter needs to be settled at some point before long, Marcus. As the year goes on we will need a line capable of playing a very good 8 to 10 minutes or whatever.

      My guess is the mixing and matching of lines will continue. We need balance, and two-way play from all our lines.

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  3. I didn't like the first two goals Reimer let in last night, I thought he should have had them but then again what do I know? Still I was not happy with the score 2-2 because I thought it could have been 3 or 4 -0 Leafs with a little luck. It looked to me like the Leafs outplayed and carried the play for the first two periods. The third was totally the reverse but then Reimer was as good as I have ever seen him - the Reimer we saw a couple of years ago when everyone thought he was the goalie of the future. He really played well and could easily be the Leafs #1 based on last nights performance. The shot count in the 3rd period was pretty bad but Hawks are good and they were rested playing a tired Leaf team.

    Looking back on the season so far I had been pretty disappointed with the start and had been expecting a lot more now that the Leafs supposedly had a stronger bottom six. Last Sat. against the Bruins was really a downer, at first I thought the Leafs were not even trying, then I thought all the analysts were right and I was wrong and the Leafs are simply not that good despite my analysis which has them as a contender because of all the skilled players on the team. But now after watching the last three games I am thinking they are a good team and a lot better than most of the analysts realize. It may have simply been against Boston they just didn't have it and that game really was an anomaly.

    So now looking forward the Leafs could have two #1's. Of course Bernier is the #1 which means Reimer will be traded but after what he showed last night his trade value may have just jumped a few notches. It would be nice to have two #1's but the salary cap does not allow it.

    By the way, last time I checked Nylander has 3G 8A in 8 games for Modo and I am really looking forward to next season. It would be nice to see the Leafs win it all in their 100th season 2017.

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    1. It seems that Reimer has often been iffy early on in games but if he can get through that he can rise to the occasion when he gets going. Keeping both guys happy will be a challenge.

      I still don't know what to make of the Leafs, Alton. They're a team that can make you feel optimistic and pessimistic in short order!

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  4. Leafs Fan in MexicoNovember 3, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Michael,

    You have to admire Reimer for his poise and professionalism. But as noted by many, he looks a little uneasy in his skates at times, especially at the beginning of a game. Is it because he feels he is being tested every time he laces up? Not a positive for a 26 yr old whose skills ought to have nailed down his spot by now. He deserves to be a number 1.

    Deserving and getting are different things in the the NHL. From a coaching perspective, its good to have a wee bit of goal tender competition. But who has seen two No 1s living together over a long period of time? There can be only one Alfa - strife and or anguish is on the way.

    From a management perspective, its all about maintaining maximum asset value either as a player or a trading piece. Packaged right, Reimer probably has good value, maybe even for that elusive 1st line centre (probably cost a second asset as well - a rushing inconsistent Dman perhaps?). Who would we replace him with? There is no heir apparent in the system (?) but there are a few older goalies about eager and willing to play back up. Would anyone be surprised by a trade? The questions from this perspective is: when would you trade him and how would you max his value out first?

    James took us to the playoffs with his brilliant play in 2012/13 and then was replaced a bit inexplicably by a 0.1% save percentage upgrade. I like Bernier a lot, but James deserves a chance and trading him to take a No 1 spot is probably best for him and the team.

    LFM

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    1. My guess, Leafs Fan in Mexico, is that management, for now, likes the idea of having two netminders who can win games. Like you, I still don't see this as something that will work long-term. Whether a trade is still a possibility, again, I don't know.

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  5. Hi Michael.

    I think the goalie situation, though not ideal, may work if both goalies are given a good amount of games and if James hasn't proven he's a #1 then neither has Bernier. I love James and, though he may move on eventually, I just can't imagine my Leafs without him. I felt Reimer sitting for a month at the end of last season and then expecting him to be sharp when needed was unrealistic. These are athletes who need competitions. It must be hard stay sharp or confident if they aren't competing for weeks at a time.

    I 've enjoyed the last two games so much! I wanted a great 500th game for Winnick against CBJ , a win for Reimer and a goal for Holland against Chicago. Three wishes received.

    I've liked Holland since he arrived and hoped for a better opportunity for him. He made his own by asking to be used on the PK where his skating and ability to break out of his zone with the puck has been an asset. I was sorry to lose Lupul, who has been playing very well, but so glad we'll get a better look at Peter. His interviews show a patient, determined and very intelligent young man.

    I've also wanted to see Bozak away from Kessel. Stats say he's often just along for the ride on the first line but I've wondered if he simply leaves everything to Kessel. I think this is a good chance for him to show us a bit more. He does have offensive ability, certainly one on one with a goalie, so this could be interesting.

    Experimenting a bit with the lines and making the team a bit more balanced is something I've been waiting for and hoping to see. Along with the return of Leo, it seems to have sparked some energy and enthusiasm in the players and in the fans as well. If they stay consistent and continue to compete, win or lose, I'll be satisfied that they are finally moving in the right direction.

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    1. It's interesting, Colleen. I sense that some Leaf supporters would like Bozak more if they didn't see him play with Kessel regularly. Maybe it's a bit like Clarkson a year ago- expectations were too high, and we spent too much time focussing on his contract. Clarkson's contract is still too much for what he offers, but he can be a useful contributor. Same with Bozak, who has plenty of skills and can be an effective player.

      I hope Holland can land a steady spot, too. Helping on the penalty kill would be one way to cement his role. Thanks Colleen.

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    2. I thought the first line was getting stale, Michael. I actually like Bozak and this may free him a little. I think he may have something more to offer.
      Excellent Hangout episode the other day. A nice surprise.

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  6. This Reimer-Bernier debate is a juicy one, and thank God right now the dilemma is picking between two recent hot hands, as opposed to reluctantly choosing the lesser of two evils. I agreed with you at the beginning of the season Michael, and your use of the word "untenable" is spot on, but I suppose it's why they pick rosters, and we seldom get asked to! My problem with the tandem setup isn't with any perceived lack of quality from either goalie (neither are perfect, but both can be very good), but it just doesn't fit the traditional sense of a goalie structure on habitually winning teams. Looking at LA, NYL, Boston, Montreal, and even Crawford in Chicago to a lesser extent, the traditional structure on a winning team is usually with a #1 stud between the pipes, and important but more interchangeable pieces in backup. Nothing wrong with trying something different I guess, and it's not like Bernier has any sort of resume that would make management want to flippantly discard other options.

    Komarov has just been beautifully irritating this year to the opposition, a mix of work ethic and pest, with plenty of shot blocks, solid hits, heavy forechecks, and juicy little cheap shots to make sure he digs a deep hole under the opposition's skin. Sorely missed last season, like you said.

    If a trainer can "accidentally" figure out a way to permanently weld that shield onto Clarkson's helmet, go for it. I really hope he doesn't take the new found freedom of no protective shield, and translate that back into being front and center in every facewash and scrum available.

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    1. There's plenty to like about the potential Bernier-Reimer tandem, Russ, but it is not the approach, as you noted, that most winning teams tend to utilize. That said, for now, if both are playing well, it gives us something to build with.

      I'm with you on Komarov and Clarkson can play a valuable role doing exactly what he's been doing so far this season.

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  7. The Chicago game was a perfect "glass half-full/half-empty" game, wasn't it? We played run 'n' gun with a league powerhouse for 40 minutes, then disappeared in the third period, only to be saved by our goalie, who was just "OK" in the first two periods but played like a superstar in the final 20. By the way, since when did back-to-back games become an excuse for playing without energy? Back in the "Original 6" days, that was the norm on a weekend. In fact, I seem to recall that the only game days were Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday back then.
    As for the goalie situation... I thought it was working just fine last year, until it was decided we had to designate a #1. And if Reimer hadn't been kicked in the head in that LA game (I think it was) late in the season, we might have yet pulled the year out. To my eyes, he was concussed after that, but gamely tried to play on, since we really didn't have anyone else. You gotta love James!
    For now, I think the coach has to go with his instinct on who's got the hot hand, even though I believe Reimer has the better GAA. Neither goalie has really made a case for being #1 yet.
    As for Kadri - he looks good with Kessel, but I'm not sure if that's because Kessel makes anyone who plays with him look good. I was amazed at the number of pinpoint passes he made in the last two games, setting up great opportunities for his teammates. Kadri is still a little too rococo for my taste - I'd like to see him be fewer curlicues, more straight lines!
    Lupul's loss is a great opportunity for our other players. Truthfully, though I like Lupul a lot, he wasn't doing much this year, and he and Kadri simply haven't gelled after a year and a half. A shake-up was due, no matter what.
    Loving our third line - you're right about Komarov. What a difference maker! His play on Holland's goal was fantastic - flatten a guy, then get the puck and pass it out front.
    I'd been disappointed by Holland's play so far, but he seems to be finding his way. Yet another reason why we should wait until the end of November to make any firm judgments on the team. Until then, despite many fill-ups and drainings, I expect my glass may remain half-full/empty a while longer!

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  8. You're absolutely correct about the schedule in the olden days, Gerund O'- teams generally always played on Wednesday/Thursday and then Saturday/Sunday. And that was with train travel in between and sleeping on the train overnight!

    As you say, it's still early to make legitimate assessments, but we're getting to a point where we will be able to have a pretty good idea of where the Leafs stand.

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    1. I think one big difference between back in the day (even the 80's and 90's) and currently is every player (ok, most every player :) ) goes full out every shift. That did NOT happen prior to the health and fitness craze that we have seen in the last 10-15 years. And that will tend to affect players in back to back games. The stats show it as a trend so there has to be some reason why.

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    2. That's a very good point, Pep. When you watch games from the 1950s and '60s, the shifts that guys played were often very long. There was more 'coasting', if you will. Players today go full out for 30-45 seconds. A minute is seen as too long a shift.

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  9. I liked the Bernier trade at the time and I still like it. I maintain that the only thing better than having a good young goalie with a good veteran backup is having two young goalies fighting for ice-time. As the management oput it at the time – the opportunity to improve at the position presented itself and we would have been foolish to pass it up.

    I think Reimer is sensing that he may again have a chance to take the number one spot. He survived the year in which Bernier was brought in as a starter with the backing of the guy on the top of the hierarchy and now that that guy is on his way out, we’re back to square one whereby the play on ice is what will determine who becomes the starter and who eventually gets traded. And when it comes to the objective on-ice performance there isn’t much to separate the two. Right now, however, Reimer looks better and the ball is in Bernier’s court – the question now becomes how will he respond to not being the go-to guy, whether he has the stamina to sit out the important games and patiently wait for his ice-time.

    As you know by now, my personal view on the two goalies is the opposite of the popular one which sees Reimer as ‘a nice guy’ and Bernier as a better goalie. I have no time for Reimer’s ‘nice Christian boy’ persona – I simply don’t buy it – I don’t trust him or his type – I think that, like most religious fanatics, he’s far from a nice guy, but rather a passive aggressive competitor who thinks has god on his side and is better than others who don’t believe. I’m a lot more attracted to Bernier’s ‘cool pants’ demeanour.

    When it comes to their performance on ice though, which is what really matters, I think Reimer is a better goalie – not a lot better, but better. He has been getting better year after year, improving his positioning and rebound control while continuing to ‘battle hard’ for every puck and scramble around to make those game-stealing saves game after game. Bernier, on the other hand, remains talented and calm, but I wonder if he can rise to ‘the next level’.

    From the management perspective, it is wise to ride this out for as long as possible and if Bernier can be locked in for another year or two all the better. I think the upcoming contract negotiations will be very telling – we’ll get to see of Bernier really wants to battle for number one and stay in Toronto. He may well request a trade now that his mentor is no longer a factor that guarantees him the no. 1 spot. If so, I’d take him to arbitration and force him to stay and play, same as Reimer.

    Ultimately, what I think we’re facing here is a situation that cannot continue for too long (in that sense you were right the first time Michael) but that the management would be wise to try to prolong for as long as possible as it is really very hard to count on one no. 1 goalie to stay healthy and carry the full load in today’s NHL. I hope that Bernier signs a reasonable contract and stays for another year or two until Bibeau is ready to step in as a back-up (I don’t think Sparks and Gibson will make it). I wouldn’t be quick to trade either of them either as I think this very duo has the best chance of leading us to the Cup. Either this year or the next, we’ll have to pull the trigger on an uncomfortable youth for veteran trade (E. Staal/R. Nash/Stamkos/Tavares for Franson/Gardiner/Kadri/picks type deal) and go for it with these two kids in the crease. Just as we couldn’t pass on an opportunity to replace Scrivens with Bernier last summer, I don’t think we should now be passing on an opportunity to go for it with this amazing goalie tandem in the crease.

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    1. It is no doubt the case, leafdreamer, that both of these guys want to be number-one. That rarely works out well long-term, but for now, maybe it will. If the goaltenders play well enough to give the rest of the club confidence, that can make a difference. Last year Bernier was very good and the Leafs won a lot of games they had no business winning.

      The Leafs are still finding their way this season. Lots to work on but they have an opportunity to build on their start.

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  10. Michael, I have a question for you.
    We saw last season a lot of collapsing during 3rd periods to protect one or two goal leads with the burden placed mainly on the goalie and players like Jay McClement just to hold on. How much of this do you think is due to a team (in this case Chicago but we've seen the same against lesser teams ) that is behind simply elevating their play and pressuring a team who isn't able to respond (lack of ability, fatigue) and how much is due to coaching---collapsing, relying on defense only, player usage/overuse of a few? Under-using the 4th line must play a part especially in back to back situations but I'm wondering what changes might make a difference when protecting a lead in the 3rd.

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    1. It's a good question, Colleen. Over the past few years, we've often seen the Leafs pour it on in the third period when they were behind. All teams do that, I guess. Same thing happens in football. I don't know if it's a psychological thing, or teams are encouraged to go into a "prevent defense" mode when they have a lead. At times fatigue is likely a factor, as you mentioned.

      Having a fourth line that you trust has to be an advantage for a coach. At times we played McClement too much last year, but I understand a coach wants his most defensively dependable players out there to "protect" a league.

      I'm still of the "play the way that got you the lead" mentality. When teams sit back, it changes the momentum and once you lose that, you often lose the game, too.

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    2. Hi Colleen,

      your questions go to a Level that they are difficult to answear in writing, but I try.

      Let's get Michael into the boat first. Michael, in the last Hangout Anthony asked Rob what he thinks about shutdown line and Rob answeared by using one of the games elite two way centers as an example, but the Leafs do not have a center near to that quality and the Carlyle shutdown line is something diffrent, Carlyle used to form a line that can play safe minutes butis no threat offensively, so there is no talk about two way (McClement, Kuli; Claeky was such a line). What do you think?

      So Colleen the best change you can make is developing and aquiering players that are comfortable in these situations, players that do not buckle under pressure and are not easily forced into mistakes. The Leafs roster is full of players that do not want to pay the price, that do not play with the requiered urgency on the defensive side and that struggle to clear the puck effectively out of their zone. The Leafs are not hard to play against and they do not take the courage out of the Opponent but they encourage them by making mistake after mistake in their own end and struggle to get the puck out.

      And when you have such a shotdown line and they are no offensive threat, what do you fear?

      The team that is behind towards the end of a game will always be the one that pressures offensively because they have nothing to lose butall to win, while the other team can not play the same way as before because it is simply to risky and the know hot opponent won't allow it.

      Especiallyon our D we have too much players that buckle under this kind of pressure (just watch yesterdays game).

      But you can not really shift to offense in these situations. How would that go?

      The Coach can only use the players he has and I have said so much about the fourth line that I won't go into it now but using 4 lines (when possible) is a good thing.
      The collapsing should also be used with structure but with the deeper offensive zone
      every team tends to have their D formation a bit deeper.


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    3. My quick thought, Marcus, is that the Leafs may have the players with the ability to form the kind of line Rob Vollman referred to during the Hangout show, but I don't think we have players with the 'will' to do the job. It's not lack of talent/skill, more a lack of commitment to doing the things to make it possible to be a good/great two-way line. That applies throughout the roster, whether we are talking about our "top six" or "bottom six" forwards. Some could potentially do the job, but they would need the required two-way tenacity to do that job effectively.

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    4. Yeah, I think you are right in some way but the comparison with Bergeron is a bit, we do not have anybody who is defensively talented in that way. I think we can be generally better in a two way sence but I don't know if there is someone who can emerge as a two way high end guy. Our centers are the problem. I can not see Bozy or Kadri develop into such a guy. We have certainly some guys who can effectively surround such a guy but we lack a center. You are right the will is crucial but you may not forget that there is a special kind of Talent requiered for these Players. They have the will to use it, sure, but you have to have it. But we don't know what Rob thinks about the Carlyle shut down line (McC, Kuli; Clarky or something alike). Your comment gives me something to think but I do not know if I can fully agree. We can be generally better in a two way asprect that we can agree upon.

      After the game yesterday I have something to say about Kadri. In the Hangout there was the discussion and I am fine with it and Anthony put it in perspective by comparing Bozak/Kadri to Krejci/Bergeron. But the thing with Kadri is and that is the real problem in my eyes is, like yesterday, he is the first guy who disappears. He had the chance last year with Bozak and Bolland and he did not step up, he played the u-boat. And like yesterday when it gets hard a lot of guys don't pull their weight but Kadri is the first who disappears. And that is the trouble with Kadri. That is they reason he is not popular with the leafs.

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    5. Colleen I forgot to say (Michael sort of reminded me) that the compete level is absolutely crucial in that area. If you do not compete in these situation you will never win. You may not like it but you win in these situations only if you battle hard!

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  11. Thanks Michael and Marcus.

    I thought it was a combination of a lot of things -coaching, capable players, the inevitable momentum changes when defending instead of attacking ( I prefer the continued attack but strong centers are so important) and of course being in a position to take risks which the team in the lead can't usually afford. Thanks for your answers. That was really interesting.

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    1. it's such a difficult subject that it is hard to cover everything.
      I am under the Impression you think at some point they choose not to attack anymore. That is not the case. When your in front with two goals after two, in the third the opponent will really come at you that you have no choice.

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    2. I understand that most teams know they can pressure and have nothing to lose at that point, but I wasn't sure if coaching played much of a part or very little. Thanks Marcus. Hoping for a better result Thursday in Colorado than in Arizona.

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    3. Myrtle wrote a nice article about what's ailingthe leafs. I can only recommend to read it.
      It is not about this subject but he talks about a lot of situations we talked about before and I think it is very good.

      Only what he writes about dump ins is not overall correct, there are situations in games where you have to use a dump in as a controled give a way where the other option is a counter attack .

      I think Randy would like to have more influence in these situations. Especially against teams like Chicago these are minutes that never end and trust me, there is nothing more in hockey that is less fun than being pinned in your own zone for extended time.

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  12. Myrtle wrote a good article yesterday.

    You're always welcome Colleen.

    I hope for a better result too

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  13. Yes! I read the article from Mirtle. The Hangout with Michael, Gus and Anthony was excellent too. They sure "lay it on you straight".

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  14. Hi Michael,

    I very much liked the Hangout you were really on fire asking good questions and Gus is my absolutely favorite guest.
    But I am afraid I have a diffrent opinion on Kessel, the style he plays with the Leafs is not his natural preference, he has to get the puck for himself because he has nobody else doing it. As he played with the great Marc Savard in Boston he played a very diffrent style. And it would make him much more dangerous and would set him up better for success in harder games in the playoffs or the end of the season where he is not allowed so much space. A center with good playmaking skills and defensive awareness who is strong on the faceoff who can create space for Phil would very much help. But he is right that depth is the issue but the right type of centerman too.

    But Anthony said something that raised my question:

    WOULD THE LEAFS BE BETTER IF BRIAN BURKE WOULD STILL BE THEIR GM?

    It hurts a bit to see that the Flames, without an elite roster, and after a short time with Burke in the organization, became the team Burke talked about as he was hired by the Leafs. They are a hard working hard to play against team while the Leafs are not.
    And our biggest Canadian rival who finished the 2012 season last in the east has nothing but success since Bergevin took over. He makes intelligent moves and brave moves at times. Sometimes they don't work out but I would feel much better about the Habs than I do about the Leafs.Okay he had some real corner stones to build around and the Canadiens had succes before their drop off in 2012.

    But how much diffrent would the Leafs look after two more years with Burkie?
    Had he bought out the same players if any at all? Would he had gone after Clarkson and giving him such a bad deal? Would he have made the Bernier trade?
    Don't get me wrong, I have mixed feelings about Burke's time here and there were a lot of moves that didn't work out including the long streak of signings with high hopes that didn't work out and that seem to last until now (Versteeg, Komisarek, Liles Connolly and a lot more and the more recent Ranger and Robidas (we will see) for example). And a lot of bad picks (Biggs, Kadri and so on).
    But I still wonder if the Leafs may be better know with him:
    What is your take on that matter?

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    1. I always had mixed views on Burke. Passionate guy, shrewd hockey person. He made some moves to help the Leafs get better right away, and also helped stock the cupboard. My issues were more with the way he came across.

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    2. Do you think the Leafs were better now with him?

      Why does the Flames look better although he spent more time with the Leafs?

      Why Looks Bergevin so much more clever?

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    3. The Leafs likely would have a stronger team now had he stayed.

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    4. I see I have some difficulties to get a bit more out of you but I found Anothonys thought very interesting. I won't get much deeper into it but I wonder if keeping Clark MacArthur who made 3.25 Million this year would have been a good idea. I think from next season on he is making 4.6 mil for a few years thats to much for me. But I thought keeping him for two years around three Million sounds better than Clarkys contract. I admid I thought MacA was to soft and did not fit Carlyles stile but I can Change my mind.
      I hope you are not mad at me because I sometimes had a critical tone. There is nothing ill minded. In no case I mean to offend you. Writing in a foreign language sometimes means that I don't know if my Intention matches your reception. If I hit a note in any case I appologise.

      I think it is an intersting subject I think buying out Grabo was right but I would like to know what a Burke team would look like. I can not imagine Burke allowing the Bernier fiasco.

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  15. Hi Marcus- I much appreciate your contributions here. If my replies are sometimes short, it's because of a lack of time to give proper thought in replying, or I don't have much wisdom to add!

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