From the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur, after the Maple Leafs fell 2-0 to the Kings Monday in Los Angeles, dropping their record to 1-2-0 since last week’s firing of coach Randy Carlyle:
Interim coach Peter Horachek can’t fix the Leafs overnight, if only because such a thing has never been accomplished. But Randy Carlyle, in 188 games, never oversaw a team that outshot opponents in three consecutive games. The shots were 20-19 for the Kings. Horachek very nearly did it in three.
Horachek is not an exciting presence. He’s not a firebrand. But he’s calmed down this fractious team, lowered the pulse. It doesn’t make anybody watching breathe very heavy, but it beats hyperventilation, followed by deep, long sighs.
From the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, who’s witnessed a vastly improved Leafs side the past three games:
These aren’t subtle changes. These are giant leaps, if they can be maintained.
So far, the answer is pretty resounding. This roster is capable of more than it showed the last season and a half.
And from TSN.ca’s Jonas Siegel:
The Leafs have given up an average of 22 shots in Horachek’s three games behind the bench, holding the opposition to two goals or fewer in each of the past two. They’ve resembled a more structured body, stood toe to toe in that possession game, and been less prone to extended stretches in the defensive zone. They’ve also put significantly less weight on the shoulders of Jonathan Bernier.
Tonight, the Leafs are in Anaheim to play the Ducks. Like those cited above, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has been impressed with what he’s seen:
When Carlyle was fired, team president Brendan Shanahan delivered a stern warning to his players. He said he “wanted to make it very clear to them that we’re watching, and that we’re on it. Whether we’ve seen good things or we’ve seen some bad things, they’re not getting by us, they’re not escaping us. We’re not going to be a (management) group that is afraid to act if we feel that we’re going to make ourselves better.”
So far, he has to be happy with how the group has responded, even if the team has actually lost ground in the standings.
The Leafs have three tough games remaining on their four-game trip. Tonight it’s Anaheim, tomorrow it’s San Jose, and Saturday it’s St. Louis.