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New Leafs assistant coach Horachek preaches ‘5, 5, 5’ defense

Jul 17, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

Peter Horachek Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs feel they have a strong starting goaltender in Jonathan Bernier, but their defense last season left something to be desired. Toronto finished dead last in the NHL in shots allowed per game and consequently surrendered an average of 3.07 goals.

They recently brought in Peter Horachek to serve as an assistant coach and he might prove to be part of the solution in Toronto. If nothing else, he’s going into the city with a defensive philosophy he intends on promoting.

“I like to use the numbers 5, 5, 5, which means in every single zone, you have all your people there,” Horachek told The Fan 590. “That means there’s a cluster of people. Back pressure is the biggest difference in the last eight years or so … (successful teams) don’t allow teams to have to have second wave attacks.”

In other words, Horachek wants to focus on coordination from the players on the ice, with everyone being involved offensively and everyone switching over to defense as soon as the puck is turned over.

“Getting everyone in the picture at all times is going to be key,” Horachek added.

Finding a solution to the Leafs’ defensive shortcomings in general is paramount. None of the bottom 10 teams in terms of goals allowed made the playoffs last season. Having a strong group of skilled forwards simply isn’t good enough on its own.

  1. lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Sounds good to me

  2. courtjester1234 - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    I loved him on Welcome Back Kotter. I liked him better than Vinny Barbirino. Didn’t know he had hockey skills

  3. thatguytml92 - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    Hopefully horachek can help out the defence. If he can help them get from worst to top 15 he’ll get recognition and consideration for a coaching job again who knows. I like the assistant coaches they chose to hire. I think they will make a big difference, not necessarily playoffs but an overall better team with different direction

  4. elrock7 - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    The Leafs were a playoff team, and should have eliminated the Bruins 2 yrs ago. Last year also playoff team until Bernier injury and subsequent 8 game losing streak.

    I will be surprised if they do not make it this season.

  5. phtjoey - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    C’mon! Truth is you rarely ever have the luxury of always having 5 guys between the blue lines. So, that’s BS. Even during a perfect defensive performance when you’ve been able to keep the gap between the d men and f1,2 & 3 at a minimum you’re still not going to always have 5 guys between the blue line. Too many times last year the Leafs d men were getting beat silly. It really comes down to simple hockey basics. 5, 5, 5…. don’t think so. How has that worked out for coach Horachek thus far?

    • dueman - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      Considering that the season hasn’t started yet, he’s been perfect…hasn’t lost a game yet!

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 18, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      “How has that worked out for coach Horachek thus far?”
      He got a job in the NHL for what he knows. What do you do?

    • raleighcaniac - Jul 18, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Totally agree. You get good offense going and have a couple of your forwards down deep near the goal line burning big time energy for 20-25 seconds, there’s little to no chance they are somehow going to have the strength to come back up the ice and make a difference at your own blueline. This is just pixie dust x/o’s living in a perfect world. This coach is taking a page out of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 shyza.

  6. cgale6 - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Let’s just hope that the players follow the defense first plan, if they followed it last year they would have made the playoffs and everyone would be praising Carlyle to stay as coach. Not like the guy doesn’t know how to coach with a cup under his belt and a Norris trophy in his playing days ( but this guy doesn’t know how to coach defense) it makes me laugh when the media and “fans” are all over the guy, the team messed up guys they had no heart, not the coach just sayin

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