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Why the Leafs are NOT Worse Off Defensively

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Old
07-07-2013, 03:00 PM
  #26
Wonder Dan
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cause we signed a 24 year old career AHLer in Brennan. Obviously we are not worse defensively

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07-07-2013, 03:08 PM
  #27
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I love when people make comments that strongly suggest that they didn't even read the OP in full

I sort of agree with the theory but again, it's just a theory. What matters most is how it all comes together on the ice. If we maintain status quo at our blue line, overall, it still might be a bit of an improvement defensively because we've brought in two forwards that are better defensively than the two forwards that we lost.

Ideally though, we need a solid #2 and we need to hope that our young D, who are still approaching their primes are the kind of players that can be regular top 4 (Gardiner, Franson, Gunnarsson). Phaneuf is the main concern. He's been given a revolving door of guys to play with (unfortunately for him, he played a lot of games alongside rookies). Just my opinion, but Phaneuf doesn't have the best hockey IQ. You aren't going to be doing him any favours if you're pairing him with guys that are brand new to the league. The best shot for Phaneuf to play a solid game is to give him a partner that he doesn't have to worry about 'carrying'. He's not an exceptional hockey player that can make anyone alongside him look good. He also needs someone to help shoulder minutes. Phaneuf being a minute eater on the blue line isn't a good thing because once he plays over a certain amount of minutes, he starts to make stupid mistakes. It takes too much out of him mentally and physically having to carry so many minutes and to do with with inexperienced guys.

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07-07-2013, 03:13 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by 490 nm View Post
This is the same defense that has trouble getting the puck out of the zone and continuously turns the puck over.
Yeah but people have short term memory

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07-07-2013, 03:17 PM
  #29
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I don't think we are WORSE off BUT I don't think we are BETTER off either....

I would rather be better off and get a true #2 that is a RHS.

That wouldn't only make us much better but IMO that makes us a true force in the East!
Phaneuf is better on the right side then the left IMO. So I think the biggest upgrade we could have in our top four would be upgrading Gunnarson. This is assuming that Gardiner-Franson stay as solid as they were against Boston. I'd prefer to wait for Rielly then do anything else.

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07-07-2013, 03:19 PM
  #30
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I think people forgot how badly we were being outshot for the last 3 weeks of the season
The defence isn't going to be helped by the addition of rookies, so I don't know why anyone is penciling them and trying to state that they are "better" with them. Quite frankly our forward group isn't able to effectively assist on the wall, and Bolland can't be on the ice for every freaking shift

Clarkson money should have gone to finding a #2D to play with Dion.

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07-07-2013, 03:32 PM
  #31
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Our defence is so bad. Post this on the main board, you will get ripped
Get ripped here too. Why do people think the folks at the main board have any greater insight than on this board?

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07-07-2013, 03:40 PM
  #32
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For me the biggest question mark for me is Gunnar, he was ok last year but he was playing with extreme pain all year. If he has a bounce back year and solidifies the pairing with Dion our defence should be solid but not great. I hope Rielly/Blacker show themselves ready and we can move Liles so the cap crunch isn't so bad.

Gunnar - Phaneuf
Gardiner - Franson
Liles/Rielly/Blacker - Fraser


Unless Gunnar proves something this year we will need an upgrade next summer.

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07-07-2013, 04:01 PM
  #33
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Firstly - yes, I admit that we need another D man before next season. A veteran, stabalizing presence on the back end would be perfect. It's July 7th, so there is still more than 2 months to get a low cost option there.

As to all the complaints I read about how poor this offseason has gone, I frankly just don't get it.

Defense is way more than the 6 guys that play the position. One of biggest problems last year was not so much the D themselves, but having too much pressure on the D due to poor defensive play by the forwards. With no true shutdown line, a lack of size on the wings to sustain pressure on the forecheck, and frankly, too many rebounds to be cleared because our goalie had trouble a) catching the puck, and b) playing the puck - it lead to situations where our D was solely relied upon to do all the work.

Is our D great right now? No. How do they stack up against other teams? Probably somewhere in the middle to a litte better than average.

There is an obsession here for that clear #1 guy - but good teams win because of a solid top 4 with a great complimentary bottom pairing - combined with depth. Look at the Leafs teams of the early 90's, and we had awesome group with no clear cut #1 - yet we drove other teams nuts.

Phaneuf is a top pairing D on almost any team in the NHL. Not a top 10 D, but definately top 20. He needs better support so that his minutes can be reduced to where he's more effective (around the 20 minute mark). Gardiner, Franson, and Gunnarson have shown themselves to be legit top 4 D men for now and the future.

With a solid group consisting of Reilly, Finn, Percy, MacWilliam, Granberg, Nilson, Loov, and Blacker coming along and showing signs of being ready in the next couple of years, any solution we get today would be ideally for the short term only. Not all of this group will make it - but to get 2 very good D men out of them is very likely.

Now to the real improvements made in the last month, and that's to the support the D will get.

Being able to ice a solid shut down line of Kulemin, Bolland, and McClement / Colborne / Ashton / D'Amigo, etc will have an imensely positive effect. It's this line that goes up against the best from the other team, that provides the coverage needed in the last minute, and reduces the pressure placed on the D. If they save a goal every 3 or 4 games, that already a big difference to our GAA. Protecting a lead going into the third? This is where these guys shine.

Also - if Reims - who while a nice guy has some faults to his game, and has yet to play a full season, and has spent time on the IR every year since breaking in - wants to win the #1 spot, he's going to have to work on his puck play and rebound control. I'm not saying Bernier will be him out - but the added strength in the position can only be a positive and help aleviate further pressure from the D. It's the most important position in hockey, and with Bernier our odds of getting a true #1 just doubled.

Lastly - with the addition of Clarkson and Bolland, it provides more grit and physicality to our forward group. Where this plays out is on the forecheck in the offensive zone. Keep the puck in longer, win the battles in the corner, and you're suddenly spending less time in your own zone. It's a contageous thing two. Other guys watching from the bench can see Clarkson playing hard, going to the tough areas, and getting rewarded with goals.

Yes - we need to move Liles, and add a cheap, stable vet on the back end. Maybe a two year deal, as we should have plently of internal competition for the spot by then, not to mention the natural development of Gardiner, Franson, and Gunnar - but overall, we are in fact a better defensive TEAM than last year - even though we currently have the same group of guys.
With everything you've said there this is the real issue with the Leafs that causes almost all the problems. The Leafs this past season even though Carlyle has done his best to change the way the team plays still was a piss poor cycle team.

Not being able to cycle the puck effectively makes it difficult to make crisp clean line changes especially the D pairings. The result of this was in fact the root of the problem in getting hemmed in cause both the forward lines especially the D were caught out on the ice with tired legs more then one would like. When the legs are burning and you can't get off what do you think happens? Turnovers, out worked, missed coverage etc. is what happens. Reimer did a real good job making the first save but his inability to freeze pucks dead without giving rebounds doubled with his issues glove side to catch the damn puck made those situations last longer then they should.

The teams D has a bad rep cause of the result of getting hemmed in and the turnovers forced from the oppositions forcheck when the real issue is that the team can't sustain a cycle game to keep players fresh in the D zone to have the legs to compete by being able to make line changes when they should.

In zone defensively the Leafs were just about as good as any team. Where they start having problems is when they can't make the line changes when needed which if people cared to notice the 2nd period with the long change was the worst period for the Leafs all season long for a reason.

Improvement of the teams cycle game was clear from the time Carlyle became coach... hence why Nonis went and got Clarkson and Bolland. Honestly folks the best line the Leafs had in sustaining the offensive cycle was the 4th line and you wonder where the team requires the most improvement? It's not defensively I tell everybody that right now.

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07-07-2013, 04:07 PM
  #34
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Good post OP. Reading it reminded me how good our defense was at clearing the net area of pucks after Reimer gave up rebounds. We would've been in a lot more trouble if it wasn't for them.

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07-07-2013, 04:19 PM
  #35
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No reason to believe our defence is worse since we haven't lost anyone important (Scrivens, Frattin, Komisarek, Grabovski, Kostka, Komarov) yet from last season who contributed to our success.

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07-07-2013, 04:27 PM
  #36
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Here is something positive. I have heard after marriage men get are more responsible.

now since celine dion and the girl next door are married (yup congratulations Dion and Elisha)

I am hoping Dion will be defensively more responsible and minimize the boneheaded plays.

Please God.

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07-07-2013, 04:44 PM
  #37
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Our defense will be one year older/wiser. Most defensemen take longer than forwards to reach their full potential. Our only D over then age of 30 is Liles. I fully expect Gunnarsson to rebound after his injury ridden season, Franson to do his best to match his offense from last season by working on his one-timer while continuing to learn the defensive aspect of the game, and for Gardiner to take his playoff experience and use it to solidify his spot in the Top 4 next season.

In order for us too be a contender, Gunnarrson will need to be replaced on the top line, and unfortunately we won't be able to afford to keep him on our bottom pairing. Same goes for the current situation with Liles. On a positive note, Holzer, Fraser, Brennan, Rielly, Blacker, Finn will all be competing for the bottom pairing for the next 1-3 years which will be good for our cap management.

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07-07-2013, 04:45 PM
  #38
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Premature thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by OptimusForever View Post
Explain to me how we got worse defensively? We have the same D group(with an extra year of experience and playoff experience) and added more defensive forwards...
Don't count your eggs until they've signed their RFA deals.

Our defense, presently, is:
Phaneuf / Liles
Gardiner / Holzer
Brennan / Blacker???

There's $10.3M in cap space remaining, and the team needs to sign Kadri (conservatively $3M), Colborne ($900k), and another depth forward ($600k say).

That leaves less than $5.8M to sign Franson, Fraser, and Gunnarson. If Liles doesn't get moved or Kadri gets even $3.3M, there's a very real possibility Nonis is walking away from arbitration awards, not able to match offer sheets, or avoiding both by shipping one or more of them off for picks.

Team defense is probably somewhat improved by a better shutdown line, but Dave Bolland's not going to be out there with our other 3 forward lines.


Last edited by mr grieves: 07-07-2013 at 04:53 PM.
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07-07-2013, 07:57 PM
  #39
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Originally Posted by samyy View Post
I think people forgot how badly we were being outshot for the last 3 weeks of the season
The defence isn't going to be helped by the addition of rookies, so I don't know why anyone is penciling them and trying to state that they are "better" with them. Quite frankly our forward group isn't able to effectively assist on the wall, and Bolland can't be on the ice for every freaking shift

Clarkson money should have gone to finding a #2D to play with Dion.
I don't forget for a second about getting outshot - but my point is that there a lot more to defence than just the six guys on the roster.

In most cases with the Leafs forwards last year, they would make a rush and have one shot at scoring before the puck was coming back the other way. Without any sustained pressure in the offensive zone, you're D is always working, and tiring out as the game wears on. No - Bolland can't be on the ice for every shift, but with the added players RC will have the ability to create at least 3 lines (between Clarkson, Bolland, and McClement) that can be BETTER at sustaining offensive pressure, winning board battles, etc - and the impact of that within the game is a reduction of offensive chances for your opponent.

Having a goalie able to reduce rebounds and play the puck helps shorten the amount the offensive time for the opposition.

Our D is not great, and I'm not saying they are - but there will be a ton of development and internal solutions over the next two years, so with a little patience - we can hold on to those 1st round picks, etc that it would take to bring in a #2 right away and still be better defensively next year than we were last year.

Another year of Carlyle's sytems will help as well.

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07-07-2013, 08:14 PM
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew75 View Post
I don't forget for a second about getting outshot - but my point is that there a lot more to defence than just the six guys on the roster.

In most cases with the Leafs forwards last year, they would make a rush and have one shot at scoring before the puck was coming back the other way. Without any sustained pressure in the offensive zone, you're D is always working, and tiring out as the game wears on. No - Bolland can't be on the ice for every shift, but with the added players RC will have the ability to create at least 3 lines (between Clarkson, Bolland, and McClement) that can be BETTER at sustaining offensive pressure, winning board battles, etc - and the impact of that within the game is a reduction of offensive chances for your opponent.

Having a goalie able to reduce rebounds and play the puck helps shorten the amount the offensive time for the opposition.

Our D is not great, and I'm not saying they are - but there will be a ton of development and internal solutions over the next two years, so with a little patience - we can hold on to those 1st round picks, etc that it would take to bring in a #2 right away and still be better defensively next year than we were last year.

Another year of Carlyle's sytems will help as well.

Lots of good points in here, but I can't say I entirely agree with this assessment of last season's attack. Just because the team wasn't a good cycling team doesn't mean they were attacking off rush that often either.

I recall often seeing a lone player entering the zone with more speed than his line mates, and either getting knocked off the puck or taking a single shot when he ran out of room/options. The forwards, as a whole, weren't entering the zone with enough speed to be effective off the rush. Partly that's the Bozak phenomenon.

But, team wide, that often started, by my eyes, with the defense, half of which (for most of the season) couldn't make a decent first pass into the neutral zone and catch anyone with speed. I thought that was, in part, the talent Randy was icing (Kosta, Fraser, Holzer, O'Bryne were not enough good first passers) but also a systems tendency to be pretty conservative leaving the zone, chipping it out to center rather than organizing an attack.

That's what I saw creeping into their game during the last dozen games, anyway. And it was there in full bloom during the first game of the Boston series.

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07-07-2013, 08:33 PM
  #41
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Phaneuf - Gunnarson
Gardiner - Franson
Fraser - Liles

looks good to me

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07-07-2013, 09:23 PM
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samyy View Post
Clarkson money should have gone to finding a #2D to play with Dion.
Please enlighten us all with the #2D that were available to be had for the Clarkson money??

There sure weren't any available as UFAs so I'm going to guess you mean via trade. Legitimate top pairing D are pretty near as rare as a true #1 centre, so why would any team that had such assets trade with us? Because we really want one and say pretty please?

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07-07-2013, 09:49 PM
  #43
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phaneuf gunnarsson
gardiner franson
liles frasor/tj/holzer

its a decent to good D group, but u dont win cups with just a decent group of defensemen

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07-07-2013, 09:51 PM
  #44
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Not worried about the defense, more worried about the offense.

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07-07-2013, 09:55 PM
  #45
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Not worried about the defense, more worried about the offense.
Our offense is fine

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07-07-2013, 09:56 PM
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Blueblood View Post
Please enlighten us all with the #2D that were available to be had for the Clarkson money??

There sure weren't any available as UFAs so I'm going to guess you mean via trade. Legitimate top pairing D are pretty near as rare as a true #1 centre, so why would any team that had such assets trade with us? Because we really want one and say pretty please?
Yes, we can give them a box of cookies

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07-07-2013, 10:09 PM
  #47
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cause we signed a 24 year old career AHLer in Brennan. Obviously we are not worse defensively
HAHA career AHL at 24. I hope for your sake your career at 24 is not looked at so negatively.

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07-07-2013, 10:26 PM
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samyy View Post
I think people forgot how badly we were being outshot for the last 3 weeks of the season
The defence isn't going to be helped by the addition of rookies, so I don't know why anyone is penciling them and trying to state that they are "better" with them. Quite frankly our forward group isn't able to effectively assist on the wall, and Bolland can't be on the ice for every freaking shift

Clarkson money should have gone to finding a #2D to play with Dion.
Reimer for as much respect that we have for him,we will all agree he can't catch a puck and can't handle a puck. That factors into possession time/shots against etc. It is/was a concern last year. I would say the largest concern the team had really.

Bernier will actually play the puck up the wall. Reimer never did ever. Thats large.

Bernier solves that in spades and the addition of him is really leading me to believe that Reimer might already have a strike against him when it comes to holding the starting goalie position.

Reimer being traded wouldn't surprise me but the return would have to be significant.Reimer doesn't seem happy with the aquisition from the get-go.

Clarkson not being signed to sign a defenseman would still leave another hole in terms of the style of play and net presence Clarkson contributes and the fact that is was a need.

It is a catch 22. We have the defensive depth to improve from within in terms of d-men and not at all in terms of adding a forward from the Marlies that brings Clarksons assets.

Clarkson being signed was neccessary and proper imo.

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07-07-2013, 11:06 PM
  #49
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Some notes:

Clarkson is atrocious defensively. MacArthur is not. We hired him to park himself in front of the net and be mean.

Bolland is not more productive than Grabovski, but he's a lot cheaper. In Chicago, he received extensive support from Havlet, Ladd, Sharp, Kane in a shut down role. He is going to be receiving a lot of support from JVR and Colborne who were more relied upon in game 7.

Gunnarsson is not a top pairing guy. He is barely top 4. To be a shut down type, a more physical component is required. Maybe Granberg can be the one, but it's not Gunnars.

Gardiner is essentially a power play specialist, who needs to be insulated by Franson. I would consider Cody, top 4 in both fronts. He needs to improve on his mobility unless he's going to start commanding the puck like Pronger. Big guys that can move puck are special.

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07-07-2013, 11:10 PM
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leafspring View Post
Reimer for as much respect that we have for him,we will all agree he can't catch a puck and can't handle a puck. That factors into possession time/shots against etc. It is/was a concern last year. I would say the largest concern the team had really.

Bernier will actually play the puck up the wall. Reimer never did ever. Thats large.

Bernier solves that in spades and the addition of him is really leading me to believe that Reimer might already have a strike against him when it comes to holding the starting goalie position.

Reimer being traded wouldn't surprise me but the return would have to be significant.Reimer doesn't seem happy with the aquisition from the get-go.

Clarkson not being signed to sign a defenseman would still leave another hole in terms of the style of play and net presence Clarkson contributes and the fact that is was a need.

It is a catch 22. We have the defensive depth to improve from within in terms of d-men and not at all in terms of adding a forward from the Marlies that brings Clarksons assets.

Clarkson being signed was neccessary and proper imo.
Bernier is a more technical sound goalie and is more confident with the puck as well. He's going to be very compatible with our puck movers particularly Franson. It is very obvious that outside top pairing, our secondary shut down guy was the Fraser - Franson pairing. The missing link was actually Fraser, while his former partner is looking very interesting.

Having a goalie that can act as a third defenceman is very handy. His upright style of play is going to mesh well with our up tempo game. I am certain that Riemer will play significant number of games so he needs to adapt to our playing style as well.

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