Randy Carlyle wants the Leafs to work harder…and sounds pretty serious about it

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Toronto’s hockey team may be taking a back seat to its mayor today, but that didn’t stop Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle from delivering a warning of sorts to his players.

“Our level of work has to go up,” said Carlyle, per TSN 1050’s Jonas Siegel. “We’ve stated that and we’ve [told] our players that the message is going to start to be delivered in a different manner if we’re not going to get the results that we’re looking for.”

Carlyle added: “It’s not just about wins, it’s about how we play.”

It’s no secret the Leafs (10-5-0) have been outshot in all but two of their games this season (especially for those who read PHT). That lack of consistent puck possession finally caught up to them Saturday in Vancouver, where they lost 4-0 to the Canucks while getting outshot badly, 47-21.

“It was a terrible game for us,” Carlyle said. “Probably the worst game we have played this year.”

While it’s not entirely clear what he meant by “the message is going to start to be delivered in a different manner,” whatever he meant, his players should be aiming for a better effort when they host New Jersey tomorrow.

With injuries to centers Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland, James van Riemsdyk, normally a winger, was between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul on the top line today at practice. Jerred Smithson, signed yesterday for the rest of the season, centered the fourth line.

Related: Leafs experiment with JVR at center