The Toronto Maple Leafs feel they have a strong starting goaltender in Jonathan Bernier, but their defense last season left something to be desired. Toronto finished dead last in the NHL in shots allowed per game and consequently surrendered an average of 3.07 goals.
They recently brought in Peter Horachek to serve as an assistant coach and he might prove to be part of the solution in Toronto. If nothing else, he’s going into the city with a defensive philosophy he intends on promoting.
“I like to use the numbers 5, 5, 5, which means in every single zone, you have all your people there,” Horachek told The Fan 590. “That means there’s a cluster of people. Back pressure is the biggest difference in the last eight years or so … (successful teams) don’t allow teams to have to have second wave attacks.”
In other words, Horachek wants to focus on coordination from the players on the ice, with everyone being involved offensively and everyone switching over to defense as soon as the puck is turned over.
“Getting everyone in the picture at all times is going to be key,” Horachek added.
Finding a solution to the Leafs’ defensive shortcomings in general is paramount. None of the bottom 10 teams in terms of goals allowed made the playoffs last season. Having a strong group of skilled forwards simply isn’t good enough on its own.
For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.
The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.
They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.
It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.
Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)
Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.
This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.
Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.
As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.
The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.
This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.
Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.
Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: