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.