Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Carlyle Not Sticking with Status Quo as Leafs Open Season with Three Wins

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Carlyle Not Sticking with Status Quo as Leafs Open Season with Three Wins

Article excerpt

Undefeated Leafs not sticking with status quo


TORONTO - A three-game winning streak usually isn't a breeding ground for complaints.

But after a perfect start to the season, at least in the standings, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren't acting like a team that's coasting along at 3-0. Starting with practice in preparation for Tuesday's game against the Colorado Avalanche, coach Randy Carlyle's group got into what he called "correction mode."

"I would say that there are parts of our game that we need to improve on," Carlyle said Monday. "I think the games in general have been sloppier than what we'd expect, and that's probably the reason for concern. The number of turnovers and the lack of execution plays or fumbling of pucks and that kind of stuff."

Mistakes are to be expected early in the NHL season, and Carlyle expects "scramblier" play in the first 20 games or so. The Leafs' play at times has bordered on scrambly, which is why committing fewer turnovers is a point of emphasis.

"You want to make it as hard on the other team as possible to create offence, and usually when you're not turning the puck over it's a lot harder (for an opponent)," forward James van Riemsdyk said. "It makes it more frustrating to play against when you keep chipping it in, you keep going to get it, you keep finishing checks and you keep cycling the puck. If we stick with that sort of thing, then it definitely helps feed the way we want to play."

Giving the puck away 33 times Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators is clearly not the way the Leafs want to play. But they still managed to erase a two-goal deficit and win in a shootout.

"We're criticizing our team, we're 3-0, but yet the teams we played against, they committed as many errors or more errors than we did," Carlyle said.

And of course the Leafs aren't apologizing for a strong start that might not perfectly match their level of play.

"I think as a group we know we haven't played our best so far and we found a way to win three games," goaltender Jonathan Bernier said. "That's the bottom line, that's what you're working for is to win."

Injuries to forwards Nikolai Kulemin and Frazer McLaren and defenceman Mark Fraser and right-winger David Clarkson's 10-game suspension have put Toronto in a spot where depth players have to fill some roles. …

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