When winning starts to become a habit there is usually things that you have to sacrifice and maybe those things might happen to be people. Well in the case of the game last night between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburg Penguins that is exactly what happened.

Jeffrey Lupul was doing his job well last night. He was told to create more traffic in front of the other teams goalie, get some screening going on he was told. But the one thing he wasn’t told was that there was going to be a missle fired his way either! That missle of a shot came off the stick of Captain Phaneuf and struck Lupul directly on the forearm, fracturing it and causing him to be out of the line up for the next 6 weeks. Talk about a bad break-really-I mean for Lupul as he has gone through some injury filled seasons in the past and he was hoping this season, with a newly signed contract, he could be a dominating force for the Leafs club. Well that, my friends, will have to wait now won’t it.

That Leaf Fans is the bad news (glad thats out of the way) but the good news is the Leafs skated and deserved the win in Pittsburg last night stated Penguins skipper Dan Bylsma. He was concerned on the Leafs ability to skate quicker and to break out of plays that had gone astray. He stated that his team gave too much open room to the ‘Buds’ and that they would do damage-and damage they did. As MacArthur also mentioned,’ we showed we can play a good rugged defensive game and tonight we showed we have the ability to score as well, now we need to find the recipe to have both going at the same time, then we will have a good team and a good chance to win every night.’

After the first period the Penguins had the lead 1-0 but it was short lived after the second period was done. The Leafs out skated and out chanced the Penguins in the second with goals going to Clarke MacArthur (monkey finally off his back!) and James Van Riemsdyk with two (Carlyle off his back-will get into that later) to take the Leafs into the third with a 3-2 lead.

With a couple of good breaks going to the Leafs in the third where Mikhail Grabovski bounced on a redirected pass out of the Penguins zone and rifling a shot past goaltender Fleury and then with less then 2 minutes left in the game a bullet of a wrister from Tyler Bozak caught the Pens goalie looking the other way amking the final score 5-2 for the Leafs.

As we sit today and look over the goal scorers and ponder why the Leafs can beat this team now I think you have look directly behind the bench of the players and that is at Coach Randy Carlyle.

Just a couple of days before he sent out a challenge to some his non-performing players and stated, ‘ I wasn’t critizing them or any player, it’s done to motivate them and to help them. These guys are professional they understand. It was just that they needed to step up their play, we needed to be physical and to be a presence. We need a Van Riemsdyk type of player to skate hard to the net with the puck and make things happen.’

Well with along with shuffling up some line combinations, it seemed to work now didn’t it. You see Coach Carlyle doesn’t want players to feel they have a right just to be there with the ‘Big’ club, he wants them to earn it every single game, in fact he wants them to earn it every single shift to be exact. That’s how good teams get better and that’s how good coaches become better coaches, better leaders and gain the respect. Maybe something the Toronto Maple Leafs club has been missing for a while!

Let’s hope this recipe will continue for the ‘Boys in Blue’ for the remaining of this season.

Until next time,

See you after the game.

Coach Nye

By Warren Nye,
January 24th, 2013