Randy Carlyle Leafs

Leafs, Marlies coaches to implement new defensive system

Only the Tampa Bay Lightning allowed more goals last season than the Toronto Maple Leafs and, unlike the Lightning, the Leafs also finished in the bottom third of the league in shots allowed.

While a lot of the heat has been put on the Leafs’ goaltending, new head coach Randy Carlyle has turned his attention to changing his team’s defensive system, according to Sportsnet.

Carlyle’s strategy will put an emphasis on outnumbering opponents in the Leafs’ end.

With the lockout threatening the NHL season, Carlyle has teamed up with Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins to start the process by teaching the new system to the franchise’s youngsters in the AHL. Eakins believes that his players will need time to adapt.

It’s worth noting that the Marlies made it all the way to the 2012 Calder Cup finals while surrendering an AHL-low 175 goals in the regular season.

“It doesn’t matter what we did last year — my job is to teach what the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to do,” said Eakins. “(The new defensive system) is something Randy is at least going to experiment with. Obviously he’ll either stick with or not, but I am teaching the Leafs systems immediately.

“It’s imperative that our players know them inside out.”

If the lockout drags on, then the Marlies’ players will probably have an easier time adjusting to the Leafs new system when the NHL season kicks off compared to those that didn’t play or spent the lockout in Europe.

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    Kings put Gaborik on IR because of lower-body injury

    Los Angeles Kings' Marian Gaborik celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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    By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

    Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.

    Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.

    And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:

    LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.

    Minnesota Wild fire Mike Yeo

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo talks to Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.

    ***

    It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.

    Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

    Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:

    The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.

    Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.

    One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?

    Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …

    Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.

    /paging Jacques Lemaire …

    Cold for Clutterbuck? Illness sidelines Isles’ heavy-hitter

    New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) goes flying after tripping over Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson (88) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 8-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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    The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.

    The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.

    According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).

    Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.

    Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:

    If Wild want Yeo out, they’ll probably need to fire him

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo argues a call in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.

    “I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

    It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.

    The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.

    https://twitter.com/ChadGraff/status/698629021232455680

    Yikes.

    Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.

    (And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)

    Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.

    Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?