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Leafs coach hopes to follow the Kings’ style

Jun 24, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs Getty Images

Say what you will about the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but when things were going well, that team could light up the scoreboard. Unfortunately for Buds fans, other teams lit up the scoreboard far more often – especially when it all fell apart at the end of the year.

There are basically two ways to judge those results. One side is to say that a high-octane style could work – particularly considering the personnel on hand – if the defense and goaltending was simply adequate. The other is to say that the team needs to embrace big-picture NHL trends of going defense-first. Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle sides heavily with choice “B,” as he told Kevin McGran.

“I look at the way (the Kings) played and the type of team they had was very similar to what we had in 2007 (in Anaheim),” Carlyle said. “It was a grinding type of puck movement (in the playoffs) … There wasn’t a lot of goals scored off the rush. There was a lot more special teams in the games.”

This is the kind of hockey Carlyle wants his Leafs to play.

The big question is: do the Leafs have the makeup of a team that can grind out a lot of low-scoring, one-goal wins? Let’s not forget that along with a deep group of forwards, the Kings employed one of – if not the – best defense corps in the NHL and an undeniably elite goalie in Jonathan Quick.

A question of personnel

Is there anything resembling that in Toronto? Dion Phaneuf once came into the league with Drew Doughty-type acclaim, but he seemed to plateau in Calgary.* James Reimer showed flourishes until a concussion derailed his season, so the Quick element isn’t there, either.

If you ask me, the Leafs were at their best when Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were shocking the hockey world with their fantastic, frenetic play. Their best off-season move so far involved letting go a once-promising defenseman (Luke Schenn) for a hopeful power forward in the making (James van Riemsdyk).

Changes coming?

Of course, the key phrase is “so far.” Perhaps Toronto can add some talent in net and some stability on the blueline. Otherwise, it’ll take some fantastic coaching from Carlyle if the Maple Leafs want to look anything like the Kings.

(Other than the “struggling to get into the playoffs” part, that is.)

* – There is talk that he’s improve, yet that dialogue has a “he’s not all that bad” tone.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

  1. craigmaitland - Jun 24, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    Barf barf barf follow the kings style? The leafs don’t have anyone as talented as kopitar, carter, Richards, brown doughty. Or a goalie.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jun 24, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      Carter sucks

  2. danphipps01 - Jun 24, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Yeah, the “praise” of Phaneuf is mostly “He’s STARTING to climb back toward the player he was in Calgary… we think.” and similar. Not really confidence-building, is it?

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 24, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    They need to address the goalie issue. Last year both goalies lost confidence in themselves, the team lost confidence in the goalies, and things just kept spiraling downwards. I think the guys here now have the ability to be a low-seeded playoff team but the Leafs need some serious consistency in net.

  4. craigmaitland - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    How does Brian Burke have a job? The first thing he said when he got hired is the leafs were gonna be bigger and badder like thing kings…. Then he traded away the world for a small one dimensional fwd.

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