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.