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.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.