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MessagePosté le: Ven 19 Oct - 04:57 (2018)    Sujet du message: anything revolutionary with the Ducks that allows the Répondre en citant

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It was top line or bust most nights for the Maple Leafs last season. When Phil Kessel and the first unit failed to find the score-sheet the team usually failed to find the win column. Depth, thus, became a priority for management in the offseason – scores of forwards added to the ranks – but it’s a lingering question as to whether that depth can produce enough offensively to shoulder some of the offensive load. More specifically, it’s a question of whether a prospective third unit of Mike Santorelli, David Clarkson, and Leo Komarov, can score some goals – especially if head coach Randy Carlyle leans further and further from rolling four lines. Though Kessel scored twice and added a helper on the third this fall from James van Riemsdyk on Tuesday, Toronto found some needed offence from what’s quickly become an effective third unit. Santorelli set up a pair of goals, Clarkson scored his second of the year, and Komarov notched his fifth assist already – on the verge of matching his 2013 total for points in October alone. “They’re starting to get more of a reward for the work that they put in,” said Carlyle, following a 5-2 win over the Islanders, which snapped a mini two-game losing streak. “If they continue to play in the opposition zone and cycle the puck and get pucks to the net the way they did tonight – and they have in the previous games – goals will come.” And the Leafs need that. Carlyle has already veered away from using four lines – he dressed seven defenders for the first time on this night – meaning the lion’s share of production will have to come from three scoring combinations, just as the head coach specified it would before the season. That’s the obvious detriment of not using four units consistently and one that haunted the club last season. Beyond Mason Raymond, who scored 19 goals, the Leafs got next to nothing from their bottom two lines last season. Their fourth line in particular was an offensive wasteland with limited minutes and a limited skill-set. (It’s worth noting that Santorelli, who has four points now in seven games, is already within reaching distance of the 10 points Jay McClement, the team’s former third line centre, accumulated all of last season.) That was supposed to change with an infusion of depth in the offseason, but save for an increased opportunity for Peter Holland on this night in particular – he had his best game of the season, approaching nearly 12 minutes with his first point – that’s just not been the case. Toronto’s fourth line forwards have gotten sporadic ice-time through the first two weeks. All of which means that Santorelli, Komarov and Clarkson need to contribute offensively, especially as the team’s second unit – Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Winnik – sputters on the score-sheet despite gaudy possession numbers (though that figures to change at some point). The question is whether they can do so on a consistent basis. Santorelli has a checkered history of scoring goals; Komarov managed just four markers in 42 games as a rookie two years ago; Clarkson caught fire for two seasons in New Jersey, but isn’t a prototypical goal-scorer by any means. The line has found its early effectiveness by controlling pucks in the offensive zone, employing the cycle game Carlyle is admittedly fond of. “That group has created more five-on-five scoring chances than any other line on our hockey club right now,” Carlyle said of the Santorelli line before Tuesday’s game. “That’s been their trademark, finding a way to keep the opposition in their zone and thus not playing too much defensive hockey. And that’s one of the traits that we’d like our entire group to follow.” “We want to start bearing down on our chances and putting them in the back of the net,” Santorelli said Tuesday morning. It’s still quite early, but the Leafs remain perfect this season when Kessel notches a point. They’ve yet to win when he doesn’t. And that will remain the question. Five Points 1. Player of the Game The Maple Leafs have a new post-game dressing room tradition this fall. Just as they do in New York with the Broadway Hat, the Leafs are passing out their own player of the game award after wins this season – in Toronto’s case, a camouflage hoodie from a preseason paintball outing. The honour is awarded by the player of the game from the previous outing. Jonathan Bernier earned it on Tuesday, the 26-year-old securing his first win of the season with 34 saves. Bernier was especially effective in a chaotic third period, stopping all 17 shots the Islanders peppered his way. 2. Adjustments Bernier, who’s stopped 65 of 68 shots in his past two starts, said the most difficult transition to make from the offseason is the simple ability to see pucks through a maze of traffic early in the season. “I find that when you come from the summer and training camp that it’s just hard to find the puck all the time,” he said. “You find a way to be better at it. You can’t really work on those [situations] in practice. You’re going to try to do drills where the guy is going to stay in front and tips shots, but it’s not the same when you have 10 guys skating in front of you.” 3. Sophomore Season Before his sophomore year began Morgan Rielly said he didn’t believe in the sophomore jinx and was determined to avoid it. “I’m not going to be okay with being good or average, I want to be even better,” he said. Early into that second season and the 20-year-old is still trying to sharpen up his nightly performance. “I think there’s room for improvement,” said Rielly of his efforts through seven games. “I think I’ve played well at times, but it’s just a matter of being a bit more consistent. I’ve talked with the coaches and they’ve been happy, but I personally want to be better.” It’s clear the Leafs don’t want to thrust too much onto his inexperienced shoulders. Though he’s playing a bit more this season – up slightly to nearly 19 minutes per game – the coaching staff is doing their best to shelter Rielly, giving him the highest share of offensive zone starts and weakest competition. That aligns with Carlyle’s cautious comments prior to the season when he worried about giving Rielly “too much too early”, aiming instead to “get his feet underneath him and do what he did last year until he’s very comfortable.” Indicative of a Leaf defence that’s in flux at the moment, Rielly has already played with four different partners. He started with Jake Gardiner, played a game each with Cody Franson and Stephane Robidas and then settled in with Roman Polak the past two nights. He’s also bounced between his natural left side to the right from time to time. “When you’re a young guy you don’t have a lot of say in it,” he said. “You’ve just got to roll with the punches.” Rielly played nearly 15 minutes against the Islanders. 4. Front Office The Leafs front office refurbishment continued with another addition on Tuesday morning. Long the owner, general manager and sometimes coach of the OHL’s London Knights – 12 seasons – Mark Hunter was added as the team’s new director of player personnel. “I think he’s just got a great eye, great knowledge of players, [and] the hockey world in general,” team president, Brendan Shanahan, said of the hiring. “He’s just a guy that has never rested on his success.” Shanahan, who played junior in London, said the position was one that general manager Dave Nonis had been looking to fill for the last year, waiting for the right candidate to emerge. “What Dave had said to me is he was more interested in finding the right person than just filling the job,” Shanahan said. Hunter will oversee the team’s amateur and pro scouting departments and offer a voice in player evaluation. The Leafs have quite a few voices in that sense, boasting a president, general manager, director of player personnel, assistant general manager, assistant to the general manager, senior consultant, as well as a hockey research and development staff of three. 5. Diligence Many players quickly exit the ice surface when a practice wraps – be it on game-day or otherwise. Others work through specific drills with a group of their teammates and some choose to focus on individual skills, be it shooting or stick-handling. Santorelli falls into the latter category, about as diligent as any Leaf about the regular work he puts in after practice. After each and every session on the ice, when all the schedule activities have ceased, the 28-year-old gathers with Chris Dennis, one of the team’s assistant coaches. Santorelli lines up with the puck in front of the boards at centre-ice, taking pains to protect it and subsequently elude the check of his opponent, in this case, Dennis. They repeat the drill for minutes on end. Arguably the quietest player in the Toronto dressing room, Santorelli won’t say much about the extra work, only that he was working on “stuff”. It’s been clear early though how those skills – puck protection and eluding the intrusion of opponents – have helped him find some early success. Stats-Pack 2 – Three-point games for Phil Kessel so far this season. .956% – Save percentage for Jonathan Bernier in his past two starts. 0-16 – Toronto power-play in the past four games. 17 – Even-strength minutes for Roman Polak to lead the Leafs on Tuesday. 61% – Leafs in the faceoff circle against the Islanders. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-4 Season: 17.9% PK: 5-6 Season: 85.7% Quote of the Night “We’ve been an inconsistent group. What we’re trying to do is trying to force, kick, coddle, hug, kiss, whatever you’ve got to do to get them to play to the type of the game that we played in the last game [versus Detroit]. That’s where the consistency factor has to draw in.” -Randy Carlyle, on his team’s performance early this season. Up Next The Leafs visit the Senators on Wednesday night. Donovan Mitchell Jersey . Spencer Abbott and Trevor Smith scored third-period goals erasing a 2-1 deficit giving Toronto a late 3-2 lead. Karl Malone Jersey . The Stampeders announced the move on Wednesday. Bell spent his first two CFL seasons with the B. .5 million. The 25-year-old Varlamov is thriving under first-year coach and Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, posting a 26-9-5 record with a 2. Ricky Rubio Jersey . Sundays game against the Colorado Rapids at B.C. Place Stadium has important implications in determining Major League Soccers playoff picture and will also mark the final game in the career of veteran South Korean defender Young-Pyo Lee. Pete Maravich Jersey . Starters, when they struggle, have to live with it for five days. For Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar, two of the three men who authored one of the ugliest pitched innings in Blue Jays franchise history on Thursday night, the bounce-back chance came right away.With the trade deadline passed and the stretch run to the NHL season beginning, its time for Scott Cullens latest update to the NHL Awards races. On one hand, there are familiar names throughout, with previous Hart, Norris, Selke and Jack Adams winners named as best through three quarters of this season. However, as we get more games in the file, the leading candidates begin to separate from the rest of the class. Its not to say that others cant mount a strong finish to alter the outcomes, but as the season gets closer to the end, there isnt as much wiggle room. Anyway, here are my picks for awards through first three quarters of this season: HART TROPHY Winner: Sidney Crosby, C, PittsburghRunners-up: Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim; Alex Ovechkin, RW, WashingtonComment: Its no surprise that a healthy Crosby is in position to win the award as the leagues Most Valuable Player, because hes 14 points up in the scoring race and playing at the level to which weve become accustomed, when hes in the lineup. This year, he hasnt missed a game, and that is the biggest reason that Crosby at the forefront of the MVP discussion. Getzlaf is scoring at a career-best rate of 1.17 points per game, leading the team that sits on top of the standings. While his possession numbers are solid, Getzlafs line has been particularly fortunate in terms of shooting percentage, which leads to a dominant goal differential (57 for, 25 against) when Getzlaf is on the ice during 5-on-5 play. Its not the kind of thing that can be sustained long-term (as in year-over-year) but, this year, it puts him in contention for the Hart. I recognize there may not be a lot of observers that would consider Ovechkin among the most valuable in the league this year, yet I do despite his deficiencies. Hhes so far ahead of the rest of the league as a goal-scorer, that I cant ignore that contribution. Right now, Ovechkin is on pace for a 57-goal season. Second-place Phil Kessel is on pace for a 42-goal season. The last player to win the goal-scoring race by 15 goals or more was Brett Hull, in 1991-1992, when Hull scored 70 and Kevin Stevens scored 54. (Incidentally, in 1990-1991, Hull scored 86 goals, 35 more than a trio of players -- Theo Fleury, Cam Neely and Steve Yzerman -- tied for second.) Its just not that often that the leagues top goal-scorer is that far ahead of the field and, this year, Ovechkin is. Additionally, while he does plenty of damage on the power play, Ovechkin also leads the league with 26 even-strength goals, so its not all one-timers from the faceoff dot with the man advantage. Looking beyond those three, Kessel, Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Toews are among others who could warrant consideration. NORRIS TROPHYWinner: Duncan Keith, ChicagoRunners-up: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa; Victor Hedman, Tampa BayComment: This season hasnt been all that different from Duncan Keiths 2010 Norris Trophy-winning campaign. Hes played his typically-strong two-way game, though he is down more than three minutes per game compared to his peak playing time, and has added more offence this season, scoring at the second-best rate of his carerr (0.79 points per game). There are some that decry the play of the Senators Erik Karlsson, because hes not a hard-hitting block of granite on the blueline and thats their vision of a defenceman, but Karlsson is a game-changer. Hes a rare defenceman that can drive his teams offence and his negative plus-minus is more a function of relatively bad luck on percentages (both shooting and save) when hes on the ice. After Keith and Karlsson, there are a number of worthy candidates, with my preferred choice being Victor Hedman, who has been great, while adding an offensive component that is far ahead of his previously established levels. Im not sure that Team Sweden is on board with this vote, but thats their prerogative. Some familiar names -- Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo -- are also viable candidates, close enough that a really strong finish could alter the outcome. VEZINA TROPHYWinner: Ben Bishop, Tampa BayRunners-up: Tuukka Rask, Boston; Semyon Varlamov, ColoradoComment: As a 27-year-old who had played 45 career games coming into this season, Bishop has been a major surprise, a rock for a LLightning team that has maintained its playoff position despite missing Steven Stamkos for a couple of months.dddddddddddd. Rask has pretty much always been a top puck-stopper, with a .929 save percentage over the past three seasons, and hes played a career-high 46 games this year, handling a number one workload over a full season for, really, the first time in his career. It hasnt been a smooth and steady road to the top for Varlamov, who has rebounded from a career-low .903 save percentage last season to post a career-best .925 save percentage this season. That might be a matter of arbitrary end-points, with Varlamovs real performance level somewhere between those two extremes but, for this season, his numbers warrant award consideration. If not Varlamov, Carey Price and Jonathan Bernier have both had strong seasons, strong enough that an impressive finish could push them into the discussion. CALDER TROPHYWinner: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Runners-up: Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay; Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Comment: Having set the record for the longest point streak by an 18-year-old rookie, MacKinnon is already looking like the kind of game-breaking skilled forward that teams hope to get with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Nothing like having a great pedigree and living up to it. MacKinnons closest challenger may be Johnson, an undrafted, 5-foot-9, 23-year-old who has simply scored wherever hes played and when Stamkos got hurt, Johnson took on more responsibility and continued to play at a high level. Its not easy for a teenage defenceman to step into the NHL and consistently play with poise, but dont tell that to Maatta, who has been a revelation for the Penguins. Injuries on the Pittsburgh blueline have forced the Penguins to use Maatta more than might have been initially anticipated, but hes risen to the challenge. Bruins power play quarterback Torey Krug and Johnsons left winger, Ondrej Palat, are other contenders. SELKE AWARDWinner: Patrice Bergeron, BostonRunners-up: David Backes, St. Louis; Jonathan Toews, ChicagoComment: This isnt an easy award to hand out, though there are some consistent performers that tend to be in consideration year after year. Heres a list of centres that face a decent level of competition yet still have strong possession stats. In addition to Bergeron, Backes and Toews, who have been at the top of my lists for past couple seasons at least, Anze Kopitar, Gabriel Landeskog and Alexander Steen are first-rate two-way performers that warrant attention. JACK ADAMS AWARDWinner: Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Runners-up: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis; Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay. Comment: It can be difficult to gauge exactly what a coachs role is in a teams performance, so there is some guess work involved here. One of the factors I try to take out of the equation, or at least minimize in importance, is goaltending, because great goaltending can mask all manner of shortcomings. Anyway, Im not sure that Bruce Boudreau has done anything revolutionary with the Ducks that allows them to score on such a high percentage of their shots, but getting strong contributions from so many throughout the lineup has to be considered in some way a reflection of Boudreaus approach. Oh, yeah, the Ducks are also first place in the standings, so he has that working for him too. The St. Louis Blues play such a relentless, grinding game that Im inclined to credit a coach that can keep his team playing that style so effectively. Enter, Ken Hitchcock. Admittedly, Jon Cooper has the benefit of outstanding goaltending, thanks to Ben Bishop, but his team has survived without Steven Stamkos and has done so with a lineup full of young, inexperienced players playing significant roles. For that, Cooper gets my nomination. There are many other qualified candidates. Patrick Roys Avalanche are exceeding expectations, Mike Yeo and Mike Babcock have managed to get through significant injuries and Claude Julien keeps the Bruins rolling with a steady spproach; all of these coaches deserve credit for their work behind the bench this season. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.caand followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. 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