It would be easy for Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle to get caught looking ahead.
The 2014 Winter Classic has enough buzz attached to it to keep anyone distracted, but Carlyle says he’s got other things to worry about ahead of the January 1 game as Neal Davidson of The Canadian Press shares.
“We’ll get to it,” Carlyle said Friday of the outdoor game. “There’s been so much gone on in the month of December – the number of games that we’ve played, the number of roster changes, the number of bodies that we’ve had in and out, the turmoil, lack of success. All those things have gone on here and we’ve tried to put that to the side and just try to focus on the positives. There’s been some positives that we’re trying to build on with our group and hopefully we can carry that forward.”
Throw all that in and their 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres last night as well as their game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday and you’ve got plenty of reasons for Carlyle to have his head everywhere else other than thinking about playing outdoors.
Of course, with the HBO cameras following them around everywhere he can’t really escape the inevitability of the Winter Classic.
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: