Leafs in Manhattan
NEW YORK--A few tweeks, Randy Carlyle hopes, will make a huge difference.
So it'll be James Reimer in net tonight against the 1-3 Rangers - with a new mask, no less - Mark Fraser in for Cody Franson on the back end, Mike Komisarek activated again for the demoted Jake Gardiner and Mike Brown drawing back into the lineup for David Steckel.
A little more snarl, for sure. And, Carlyle hopes, a better sense of preparedness, as well.
"Set the tone on the first shift. Win the first faceoff. Make the first bodycheck. Draw the first penalty," said the Leaf coach this morning after a pre-game skate at Madison Square Garden.
"Have everybody ready."
The Leafs did jump out to a 3-1 lead on Thursday against the Islanders, and could have been up 4-1 if they'd capitalized on a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the first. But even when they were building that margin, Carlyle believed the team was "loose" in its approach and wasn't terribly surprised when it all fell apart later en route to a 7-4 home-ice defeat.
Gardiner, sent to the minors the next day, looked to take a chunk of the blame, although Carlyle says that wasn't so.
"We know he's going to play on our team. It's a matter of when," said Carlyle, echoing his thoughts on Matt Frattin earlier this month when he failed to make the club out of training camp.
"I just thought (Gardiner) wasn't skating at the level he's capable of. In his first game against Pittsburgh, it was quite evident. Against the Islanders, he skated better, but his decision-making wasn't the Jake Gardiner we're used to," said Carlyle.
The head coach said Frattin - more physical than he was in camp - and Nazem Kadri were his best two players against Long Island, and praised the work of Marlies coach Dallas Eakins for sculpting the youngsters.
"I'm getting the luxury of what Dallas has developed," said Carlyle.
For the Rangers, meanwhile, Chris Kreider will miss his second straight game. The club is reporting a bone chip in Kreider's ankle, although he has struggled in the early going this season after playing very well in the post-season straight out of college last spring.