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‘We know we can play to a higher level,’ says coach of team with very good record

Oct 16, 2013, 2:59 PM EDT

Randy Carlyle AP

Depending where you stand on these things, the Toronto Maple Leafs were either admirable in their opportunism or plain old lucky to beat the Wild, 4-1, last night despite getting outshot by a huge margin, 37-14.

Or, if you’re Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle, you can stand somewhere in the middle.

“We know we can play to a higher level and play a better puck-possession game than what we have so far,” said Carlyle, per TSN’s Jonas Siegel.

“We’re happy to take 6-1, but there’s a but,” he added, per Michael Traikos of the National Post.

The Leafs may be 6-1-0 and tied for the most points in the NHL, but there remain doubts about their ability to keep winning the way they’re currently doing it — which is with a combination of great goaltending, timely scoring, and excellent special teams.

A couple of stats to consider: 1) Toronto has won four of the fives games in which its opponent has registered more shots. 2) Only four teams have surrendered more shots on average than the Leafs (34.6).

It all makes for a compelling narrative, especially if you’ve been following the whole “advanced stats” debate surrounding the Leafs.

Toronto’s next game is Thursday at home to Carolina.

  1. c9castine - Oct 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    No you can’t.

    • kingjoffrey19 - Oct 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      ^ haters gonna hate

  2. withseidelinn - Oct 16, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I’m biased and I’ll admit that, but what happens if this team tightens up their defense and the shots against start to decrease? There’s no reason they won’t keep winning the way they are. Their PK and PP has been extremely effectively without 4 regulars in the lineup and they’re getting scoring from all the right guys on a consistent basis. Add in 2 more than capable goaltenders as well. There’s no doubt this team will go through rough patches just like anyone else, but I don’t see why people continue to hate on them. Playoff team last year and they haven’t showed a sign of slowing down yet.

    • davebabychreturns - Oct 16, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      They’re going to have to tighten up on defense (and continue to get the same type of goaltending they have) because there is no way they will shoot 30% on the powerplay all year long.

  3. drhockeysm7 - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    TML absolutely stole a win last night… they took advantage of the Wild’s 3rd string goalie’s first start of the year, in which he made 4 saves on 7 shots half way through the game.

    Josh Harding came in and shut the door again for remainder of the game, and he is playing like he wants the starting job NOW!!!

    The Leafs also benefited from getting this early lead and making the Wild play from behind the whole night, not to mention the three posts that were hit… although Reimer played very well indeed!

    I am biased (From the State of Hockey), but lasts night’s performance by the Leafs should be a major concern, rather than looking at a 6-1 record and calling it a good start. Didn’t Toronto have a huge slide last year or the year before after getting off to a great start???

  4. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Of course the Leafs defense could be better… but look at all the regulars missing from the Leafs’ roster.

    Is your team missing a player on EVERY line? If so how is your team doing?

    Considering JVR missing on the 1st line, David Clarkson missing on the 2nd line, Nikolai Kulemin missing on the 3rd line and Frazer McLaren missing on the 4th line. Throw in Mark Fraser on defense.

    I’ll take a 6-1-0 start anyday.

  5. channelguy - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    People who say Toronto should have been blown out last night DIDNT WATCH THE GAME.

    Toronto has a high % of shots for goals because they seem to get at least one tic-tac-toe or blind drop pass to a man with an open net at least once a game. Given the limits on practice today, compared with the past, it’s really amazing how good they are at that. The first goal against Minnesota was one of those. NO GOALIE in the world makes that save. The second goal was weak, but the third was another where the Leaf just shot the puck to a different place than the goalie (and most people watching) expected it would go.

    Minnesota’s shots were also exaggerated by a couple first period power plays, where they piled up about a dozen shots.

    Of COURSE Toronto could be playing better, but given they have four regulars out of the lineup, I’m not concerned. This team for years under the last coach was always near the BOTTOM of the league in penalty killing, and mediocre in power plays. Now they are very good at both, and it wins them games, like last nights. Im good with that.

    • drhockeysm7 - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      Not saying they should have been blown out, but they weren’t the better team on the ice. I agree the first goal was a beauty!

      Goal #2 and #3 were both weak, #3 was better than #2 because Raymond made a nice little play down low, but the goalie should have stopped that… I have no idea what you are referring to when you say “Leaf just shot the puck to a different place than the goalie (and most people watching) expected it would go”… Did you even see the third goal? this comment would make more sense if you were talking about the 4th goal because then yes, most people would expect the puck to go into an empty net “where the goalie was NOT”…

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