Sometimes, when trying to crack the code that is coach Randy Carlyle's message to the media, one is forced to read between the lines.
Take, for example, his stance on not identifying a No. 1 and No. 2 goaltender. The Toronto Maple Leafs
bench boss has stood his ground in not naming either Jonathan Bernier
or James Reimer
as the team's top stopper.
Carlyle's actions, however, suggest he would, at the very least, like to see Bernier take the ball and run with it.
We may get some insight into how Carlyle feels about his two goalies when he announces who will start against the New York Islanders
on Tuesday night.
Bernier had started five straight games since coming on in the first period to replace Reimer against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 21. However, against the New York Rangers last Saturday, it was Bernier who got off to a terrible start
and was yanked after allowing five goals. Reimer came off the bench and didn't do much better in Toronto's 7-1 loss.
If, as it seems, Carlyle is enamoured of Bernier -- and starting five consecutive games is a pretty good indicator of that -- it will be the former Los Angeles King who gets the start against the Isles. But if Carlyle has lost any faith in Bernier, then Reimer gets the call.
Or maybe Carlyle just tosses both names in a hat and pulls one out.
In any case, the coach wasn't dropping any hints as to who would start following practice Monday.
"[The goaltending situation] has a little bit of cloudiness just because of the last game," Carlyle said. "Do we pin that on it just being a bad game and throw it out, ignore it, move on? [Tuesday] we have to do that, but today we think about it. That influences your judgment on who goes into the lineup and who comes out of the lineup."
When pushed, Carlyle would not say who he sees as the team's top goalie.
"I don't think that is fair to either individual in the situation we are in," he said. "Both goalies have given us 'A' quality minutes and I think both are capable."Tough month took toll
Carlyle said the month of December, during which his team played 14 games and had the added distraction of being followed by HBO cameras for the broadcaster's 24/7
series, was a tough one for his team.
"The month of December was very, very straining and draining on our group, for whatever reasons," he said. "We felt we got through the New Year's Day game and there was a sense of relief. As I stated right after that we wanted to make sure we didn't come up with a flat performance and we did."
Toronto's lopsided loss to the Rangers was one of its flattest performances of the season.
"Now is the time to re-energize our group and reinforce some of the things we know we can improvement and get ourselves ready to play the New York Islanders," Carlyle said.
Right-winger David Clarkson
took a whirl around the ice before practice, but lasted about 10 seconds before heading to the dressing room.
Clarkson has a deep bone bruise on his left foot after blocking a shot
Saturday against the Rangers. He was to have a CT scan on Monday.No Gunnar, either
Defenceman Carl Gunnarsson
also missed practice with an upper-body injury. The veteran blue-liner, who is normally paired with Dion Phaneuf, appeared to injure his left shoulder after being belted into the boards against the Rangers.
Gunnarsson had an MRI done Monday morning and Carlyle was waiting for the results.Gleason ready for debut
Veteran defenceman Tim Gleason
is set to play his first game with his new team against the Islanders. He was obtained from the Carolina Hurricanes
last week, but kept out of the lineup Saturday.
"My job is to be physical and hard to play against -- a shutdown guy who can also move the puck," Gleason said, adding that even though he has played 616 games in his NHL career, he is a little nervous about playing his first game for Toronto.
"Yeah, even my first day here you almost feel like a rookie," Gleason said.
Phaneuf hopes for Canada nod
Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf
will be on pins and needles waiting for Tuesday's announcement of Team Canada's roster for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In the meantime he will be concentrating on shutting down John Tavares
of the Islanders. Phaneuf is routinely matched up against the opposition's best scorers.
"John is a very skilled guy that is strong over the puck and he controls the puck down low very well," Phaneuf said.
"He can spin off you very quickly. You have to be aware of him when he is on the ice and play as tightly as you can."
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