The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals met, the former was on its way to winning four of five while the latter was in the midst of dropping four of five. Devonta Freeman Falcons Jersey
. The outcome of that game was as would be expected. When the teams meet tonight in Toronto, recent form will be entirely flipped, and the club with extended struggles will have a new coach on the bench. Since that 1-3-1 stretch from Nov. 22-Dec. 2, which included a 6-2 loss at Toronto on Nov. 29, the Capitals (20-11-7) have been one of the best team in hockey with a 10-1-3 record making for a furious ascent in the Metropolitan Division. We dont get flustered as much as we did earlier in the year, coach Barry Trotz said. Early in the year our highs were very high and our lows were low ... (now) theres not too many highs or too many lows. We just say Hey, things are going to happen, lets just get the momentum back, lets get the next one, lets go. The Maple Leafs (21-16-3) havent struggled for as long of a time, but theyve clearly had enough after a 2-7-0 span. On Tuesday, it cost coach Randy Carlyle his job. Assistants Peter Horacek and Steve Spott will take over for the time being, and theres been no indication as to which avenue the club will take toward finding a full-time solution. I think wed all agree weve had some good periods, good stretches, but I dont think I can stand here in front of you and say that weve been consistent, general manager Dave Nonis said. We just felt at this point this was the right time to make the change and move ahead and try to get this team back playing like we have played for periods this season. The new coaches will debut before a home crowd after a seven-game road trip that ended with a 5-1 loss Saturday at Winnipeg. Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri missed the past two games with a lower-body injury but looks to be in line for a return tonight. He was expected to miss 7-10 days. Stephane Robidas, who sat as a healthy scratch the past four games, appears to be back in the lineup for tonights contest as well. Torontos defensive struggles figure to be at the forefront of the new regimes focus, having allowed 3.89 goals per game over the nine-game span with a power-play goal conceded in five straight (70.6 percent). Its been too much of a roller-coaster, Nonis said. Its not that (players are) not capable because they are. Its not that they havent done it because they have. Thats probably the biggest reason, or one of the biggest reasons, for the change today. The Capitals, meanwhile, can match a season-best three-game winning streak after Sundays 4-3 home win over Florida. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, splitting a multipoint effort for a third straight game, and he and Nicklas Backstrom had a fresh face on the top line. Rookie Andre Burakovsky skated with the top Capitals forwards for the first time, and he scored his fifth goal of the season for his only point in seven games. He was playing with two big stars and he didnt look intimidated, Trotz said. Braden Holtby has been in goal for the entire 14-game stretch with a 2.05 goals-against average. As a starter against Toronto, hes 2-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA. Jonathan Bernier gets the start in goal for Toronto after James Reimer faced the Jets. Against Washington, Bernier is 3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA, including a 35-save effort in the November meeting. Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen is questionable after suffering a lower-body injury against Florida. Capitals (47PTS) at Maple Leafs (45PTS) - 7PM TOR is 1-0-0 vs WSH this season, winning at home TOR has won 3 straight at home vs WSH TOR (21-16-3): lost 2 straight, 1GF in each game, 1/8 on PP JVR (3G, 5A) past 6 games WSH (20-11-7): 3-0-1 past 4 games, 3GF in each game, 2/15 on PP Ovechkin (3G, 3A) 3 game PT streak Projected Leafs lines vs. Capitals FORWARD Winnik - Kadri - Kessel van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Santorelli Komarov - Smith - Clarkson Panik - Carrick - McKegg DEFENCE Phaneuf - Franson Rielly - Polak Gardiner - Robidas GOALIE Bernier Starts Womens Devonta Freeman Jersey
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.com) - Devin Booker scored 19 points and top-ranked Kentucky put on a defensive clinic in an 83-44 obliteration of UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic.WASHINGTON D.C. – Randy Carlyle, for one, would like to know where such an effort was hiding. Though they dropped their fourth consecutive game in the U.S. capital on Friday night – and 21st in 32 games since the start of November – the Maple Leafs finally played with the fight that had been mysteriously missing in recent days and, really, for the better part of a disappointing season. "Weve been begging, pleading, kicking, kissing, whatever we can do to try and find a way that we can play with some confidence," said Carlyle after a 3-2 loss to the Capitals. "This might be one of the better games weve played in a month. We showed desperation. We showed that we care [and] when we put our effort and our heart into it that there is more in that room than whats been displayed and thats whats been frustrating everybody – and theyre frustrated also." Still embarrassed from their second blowout loss in the past three games – a 6-1 pounding in Carolina just a night earlier – the Leafs at last competed with the necessary gumption and fire that was noticeably absent all week. Why it took so long to materialize and where it had been hiding was a "mind-boggling" and befuddling point for the Leafs head coach. His team was cleaner, crisper and a considerable contrast to the apparent mess that materialized against the Rangers and Hurricanes. A few mistakes and two unlucky bounces – both the Capitals game-tying and game-winning goals deflected off Toronto skates – ultimately saw a third period lead unravel, but there was, nonetheless, an air of cautious optimism afterward. "I think we played harder," said Dion Phaneuf, leading the team with 24 minutes. "No one likes to be embarrassed the way that we were." "We knew we needed it," David Clarkson added of the improved effort. "Weve got to find ways to compete like that every night. Compete. Compete. Win our battles and well be okay." It was the smallest of steps – they still lost for one thing – but a needed step no less for a team thats been light on optimism in the past two months. An unpredictable animal all year, what remains in question is how the Leafs respond when they host the Devils on Sunday night. Inconsistency has been the defining identity of the club so far. One good effort has only rarely translated into two. In fact, Toronto has won back-to-back games in regulation just once since the start of November. The reality of such a lengthy slide has seen them fall out of a playoff position for the first time all season in recent days, now 10th in the East with 47 points. "We need to start to churn some points for our hockey club to feel good about ourselves," said Carlyle, who felt his team was harder to play against, more physical and tighter defensively against the Capitals. "Theres not a lot of easy breathing taking place around our group right now. Thats the reality of it. But thats what happens when you dont have success." "Its not great when youre losing," Clarkson said. "But this is the part [of the season] that were going to have to rally together. Were going to have to find ways to get wins. I think if we play like we did tonight against every single team, I think well be fine." Five Points 1. Source of Trouble Carl Gunnarsson pointed to the Leafs inconsistency, night to night, period to period, shift to shift, as the source of a troubling first half. "Some nights the forecheck has been great and the day after, its been not as good," he said moments before Fridays game. "Its been just inconsistent all over. The only thing thats been good throughout the year, I think the goaltending has been great from both guys back there. They saved us in a bunch of games." Gunnarsson said the team could work well within its respective system, but failed to do so with any semblance of consistency. "When we do it well it works," he said. "So its just a matter of doing it every night, every shift, not only for every other night or 20, 40 minutes per game, its not enough. Its got to be every night and for 60 minutes." 2. The More Consistent Option in Goal Making his seventh start in the past eight games, Jonathan Bernier returned to the form that saw him gripping hold of the crease before a paair of losses earlier this week. Ra Shede Hageman Falcons Jersey
. The 25-year-old stopped 32 of 35 shots in defeat. Though he and his counterpart, James Reimer, have been equals for the better part of the season, Bernier has certainly proven the more consistent of the two, though Reimer has been dealt his fair share of bad hands, including Thursdays lackluster effort in Carolina. As the table below indicates, Berniers performance has fluctuated only slightly all season. Goaltender Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Bernier .933 .923 .932 .896 Reimer .949 .916 .909 .852 3. Gardiner Sitting for just the second time all season on Thursday night, Jake Gardiner was back in the Toronto lineup against the Capitals, paired with 19-year-old Morgan Rielly for the third time this season. "I thought that was one of Jakes best performances," Carlyle said of Gardiner, who played just under 20 minutes. "He moved the puck, he skated, he didnt turn it over, he made a lot of good plays. Thats what were looking for from him every night." Carlyle hadnt been happy with the 23-year-olds performance against the Rangers and Islanders, pulling him from the lineup in Carolina. "Thats the trials and tribulations of a young player," Carlyle continued. "We know Jake Gardiner has NHL-quality skills, but we believe that theres something there that takes him out of that after four or five games. Whatever that is weve got to find a way to correct that." Of note, Carlyle had Gardiner on the third pairing alongside Rielly, rather than the second grouping with Cody Franson where hes played the better part of the season with inconsistent success. 4. Opting for Optimism Rather than inflame the misery of a perilous slide on Friday morning, Carlyle opted to point out the positives of losses to the Hurricanes and Islanders. "[We] tried to focus on some of the things that were doing well in [Thursday] nights game and some of the games [recently]," said Carlyle after Fridays game. 5. End of a Cold Spell? James van Riemsdyk had his first multi-point outing in more than a month on Friday. Scoring for just the third time in the past 16 games, his 16th this season, while adding a helper on Phil Kessels 21st goal of the season, van Riemsdyk had a pair of points in the same game for the first time since Dec. 7. He sits second on the team in scoring with 33 points in 44 games. "Theres always going to be challenges throughout the year," the 24-year-old said, speaking generally about the team. "Its about how you respond to that. Theres going to be no sulking done by us, throwing a pity party or feeling sorry for ourselves. We know what we need to do. I think the effort tonight was a good response with how we kind of laid an egg [Thursday] night." Stats-Pack 4 – Goals in the past 19 games for James van Riemsdyk, who scored his 16th this season on Friday. 19:33 – Ice-time for Jake Gardiner against Washington. 11-16-5 – Leafs record since the start of November. 22 – Points in the past 32 games for Phil Kessel, who had 18 points in October alone. 6 – Fights this season for Colton Orr, who dueled with John Erskine on Friday. 12 – Points in the past 10 games for Tyler Bozak, who has 18 points in 22 games this season. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-3 Season: 21.7% (5th) PK: 4-4 Season: 77.5% (27th) Quote of the Night "Weve been begging, pleading, kicking, kissing, whatever we can do to try and find a way that we can play with some confidence." -Randy Carlyle, following the 3-2 defeat in Washington. Up Next The Leafs host the Devils in yet another Sunday night affair at the ACC. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China
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