The Toronto Maple Leafs took to the road last night for a two game grip with stops in Pittsburgh and New York City to face the Rangers. So far it appears to be the tonic that the doctor ordered.
Last night against one of the premiere offensive teams in the league the Leafs simplified their game with five regulars out of the lineup and produced a decisive 5-2 victory. This time there was no melt down in the third period.Instead the Leafs rattled off four unanswered goals before the Pens scored a late powerplay marker. The Leafs have been among the NHL’s highest scoring teams and as one scout said to me you don’t do that without a great deal of talent. Defense is hard work and attention to detail. It can be coached and learned and perfected, if the attitude is right.
Last night the Leafs kept one defenceman in front of the net at all times, they did not pinch unless they were absolutely sure and they limited odd man rushes. Good defensive zone coverage is based on trust. You have to know your responsibilities and trust your teammates to do theirs. Last night they were very very good. Now the big chore is to build on this and do it game in and game out. We will see if lessons learned Thursday pay off Saturday.