You don’t make a coaching change this late in the season unless there’s something seriously wrong and you’re trying to fight for one last shot at the postseason. For Leafs GM Brian Burke, firing Ron Wilson and hiring Randy Carlyle all came about because the season spiraled out of control for the Leafs.
How badly though? Burke sums it up nicely during his press conference introducing Carlyle as the new coach.
“I’ve never had a team fall off a cliff like this before,” Burke said.
“This is akin to an 18-wheeler going off a cliff. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what happened.”
With the Leafs having won just once in their last 11 games, it’ll be up to Carlyle to find a way to make sure that 18-wheeler finds a soft landing and helps Toronto perhaps make the playoffs. Does Randy Carlyle have a Superman outfit under the suit?
If he can’t turn things around, as Burke said during the presser, it’s about getting a head start on next season with Carlyle in place. It seems desperate now, but with the Eastern Conference being an abject mess with no one seemingly wanting to win, Toronto has as good of a shot as any other team. If they get hot, it can be done. Being five points out of eighth right now, however, doesn’t make things easy.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
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“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.