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am is hotter in MLS, undefeated i

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:01 am
by lw789
MONTREAL – The question was posed to Jonathan Bernier, perhaps the busiest netminder in the National Hockey League this season and a man who has witnessed the strength of terrific defensive hockey in Los Angeles firsthand en route to a Cup in 2012: Can his Toronto Maple Leafs, currently the top wild card in the East, threaten a deep playoff run without raising their substandard level of defensive play? "Goalies got to be good," Bernier said with an almost uncomfortable laugh. "I personally dont think so," he continued frankly. "Because some games [the goalie] wont get those bounces and [the puck is] going to go in somehow. But we know weve got it in this room. Weve just got to pay the price to play better defensively and, if we do, Im pretty sure we can be one of the top teams in this league." Its an uncomfortable truth for a team that wrung up 11 wins in 14 games before the Olympic break and has designs on making noise in the playoffs after a long-awaited return last spring. This is a hockey club that struggles badly to defend and relies most nights on terrific goaltending and an incredibly potent offence to win. Its a formula that might yield success in the regular season, and it has for the Leafs thus far, but is unlikely to gain much steam when the hockey tightens in mid-April. Head coach Randy Carlyle has been beating the drum loudly on the topic all season, but doesnt have much to show for it. His group remains a work in progress. "Weve been trying and stressing that defensive hockey is whats going to give your team the best chance to qualify for the playoffs," said Carlyle after an instructive practice in Brossard, Quebec. "[But] were in the qualification mode. Were not in the playoff mode [yet]." Only five teams have been worse than the Leafs defensively this season and only one of those teams, the Ottawa Senators, has any hope of qualifying for the playoffs. Toronto has allowed a bloated three goals per game despite boasting some of the finest goaltending in the league with the 25-year-old Bernier. No team, in fact, puts more pressure on their goaltender to be great than do the Leafs. Only Mike Smith in Phoenix has faced more shots than Bernier thus far and hes started 10 more games than the native of Laval. "I think weve seen it," said Bernier of sturdy defensive play. "I think everyones seen it, but I dont think weve seen it consistently enough." Hurting the effort is a bad penalty kill, one thats allowed the most goals (tied) in the league this season, an unstable defence which includes young and growing parts like Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner and a high-end forward group that has shown only spotty attention to defence. A pile of goals and timely goaltending have been required most nights to win. That was true during an 11-2-1 run before the 18-day Olympic stoppage. Running, then, behind the all-world efforts of Phil Kessel, who has been the hottest player on the planet in 2014, the club scored 51 goals – 3.64 per game – but also allowed 41 on the other end. Theyve won despite being outshot in 36 of 48 games – they have a record of 21-10-5 in those games – and despite the fact that theyve allowed a league-high of more than 36 shots per game. Cody Franson, second on the back-end in minutes, believes the instability is tied to confusion in the defensive end, too much thinking rather quick instinctual reaction. "I think were still a little indecisive on things sometimes," he said. "We try and play a quite aggressive style of defence and sometimes when you think too much you end up being a half second slow compared to where you should be. That comfort level just isnt quite there with us yet. I think we still think about things too much." They allowed five in their most recent affair against the Islanders on Thursday night, an overtime loss to a struggling club that was without its best player and leading scorer, John Tavares, and their third leading point-getter in Frans Nielsen. Two of the goals came by way of short circuiting on the power-play with Michael Grabner scoring twice shorthanded in a span of 48 seconds on the same power-play. Another found the back of the net via the aforementioned penalty kill with two more coming on defensive breakdowns, including the overtime winner. "Gifts," said Carlyle after the 5-4 defeat. "Ive got no other word to describe the goals that we gave up." A drastic reversal at this late stage in the year seems unlikely, though Carlyle and the coaching staff continue to push and prod. They did so with any available ice during the Olympic break and continued at practice Friday, narrowing their sights on a tighter neutral zone and improved forecheck – efforts aimed at spending less time in the defensive zone. But with just 21 games to play, including a division clash with the Canadiens on Saturday, its probably safe to say that this is what these Maple Leafs are. The question now is whether they can, as currently constructed, make a little noise in the postseason (assuming they get in) or whether their defensive liabilities will prove too onerous to overcome. Last spring, they nearly toppled a Bruins giant, but required some lightning in a bottle and forgotten brilliance from James Reimer in Games 5 and 6. History points emphatically in the direction of those that can defend. In fact, the last three Stanley Cup winners finished the regular season as either the best or second-best team defensively. And though the Leafs are not yet in the Cup conversation, that remains the goal somewhere down the road. Dave Nonis and the Toronto management team have to be mindful of that fact as it relates to the larger construction of the roster, both now with the Mar. 5 trade deadline looming and over the longer term with the core thats being put into place. Are these the foundations of a club that can eventually win the ultimate prize? "You always see it every year, strong defensive teams win," said Jay McClement. "I think we have the make-up for it. But not without being strong defensively. Obviously, youre not going to win a lot of games 5-4 in the playoffs. We have the goaltending for it and have had it all year. Weve just got to cut down on these mistakes and well be fine. "Were not changing the way we do it, weve just got to do it better." Air Force 1 Cheap Outlet .com) - Marian Gaborik scored his sixth goal in the last four games to help the Los Angeles Kings top the Arizona Coyotes, 4-2, Saturday at Staples Center. Wholesale Air Force 1 Ireland . Alfredo Simon lowered his ERA to 0.86, and the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 Friday for their 16th win in their last 17 games at the Friendly Confines. http://www.airforce1ireland.com/. Pekovic had an MRI test Tuesday on his right ankle that revealed bursitis, which is inflammation of the fluid-filled pad that cushions the joint. Air Force 1 Ireland Cheap .com) - Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his right elbow last week, the teams official site reported Wednesday. Air Force 1 Ireland . -- The Kelowna Rockets earned their 16th straight win with a 7-2 rout of the Portland Winterhawks in Western Hockey League action Thursday.Five games to go with reason to believe playoff soccer may be on the horizon. Toronto FC saved their season last Saturday in a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Portland Timbers. Sixty minutes of poor play turned into 30-plus minutes of inspired football from the home side, keeping Toronto in the playoff hunt. A loss or a draw wouldnt have mathematically washed away playoff hopes. But the psychological lift a big win against a difficult opponent provided is invaluable for a team that has experienced more lows than highs in recent months. The win over Portland was the ultimate high: a much needed shot in the arm for a team and fanbase that has become accustomed to self-loathing and expecting the worse. The three-second half goals and ultimately three points stand as arguably the most important in the eight-year life of the franchise. The noise in the stadium and lasting buzz after the final whistle can only be compared with Danny Dichios first goal in franchise history and the seat cushions thrown in celebration. The biggest win in franchise history? Sure. Why not? Certainly the most memorable and meaningful. Toronto played just about as bad as they could over the first half of the match. Yet despite the mistake-ridden 45, it never felt the game was out of reach. TFC should have had two first half goals with a ball going off the post and Gilberto missing a sitter. As the defensive structure improved, so did the confidence and pressure on the ball. Torontos resiliency ended in three scrappy goals, trademark of a character team. It was the second time in team history TFC came back from a 2-0 deficit. Forget the negative headlines of recent weeks, this Toronto FC team now has the most wins and points they have ever had in franchise history. Next step: playoffs. Toronto FC sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point back of the New York Red Bulls with a game in hand. Most important, Toronto FC remains in control of its own playoff destiny. Here are my Five Thoughts ahead of Saturday nights (10:30pm et/7:30pm pt) Los Angeles Galaxy-Toronto FC match-up. 1) Redemption a€“ Nick Hagglund and Toronto FCs back four had as bad of a first 45 minutes imaginable against Portland. The rookie centre-half was culpable on the first goal against, far too casual in distribution giving away the ball to gift Portland the opener. The Timbers could have scored more than twice in the opening half, carving up an unbalanced and unsure defensive unit. It was painful to watch to the point it made sense for the manager to make changes. Vanney stuck to his guns, entrusting Hagglund and others to sort it out. Vanneys patience was rewarded. It became a tale of two halves. Hagglund was standout in the second half: aggressive, instinctual and tidy, over-powering and out-playing a talented Timbers frontline. Fanendo Adi left the field looking as if he had been through a war, with former Reds striker Maximillano Urruti playing the role of spectator upon his second half introduction. Hagglunds two headed goals (the first of his young career) meant redemption for the 22-year-old, all within 90 minutes of football. The goals were timely, but his passionate, character performance in the second half will also be memorable. Overcoming in-match adversity is difficult for the most experienced player. Hagglund continues to prove hes more than capable alongside Steven Caldwell. At this point he seems a preferable option over Doneil Henry at the position. Its a matter of consistency, not talent. 2) Midfield Mash-up a€“ Its decision-time for Vanney with a full compliment of midfielders at his disposal for the trip out west. Collen Warner (hamstring) and Jackson (suspension) are both available for selection. Its a positive dilemma for the manager to have. Michael Bradley is the only player guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. Vanney may choose to re-insert Warner alongside Bradley, although the duo has lacked cohesion, playing similar roles causing imbalance through the middle. The Bradley-Warner combination however may be preferable against a very good attacking side. Jonathan Osorio will look to keep his place, being a better fit in a more attacking role down the middle. Osorio was unable to influence the match against Portland as Toronto was out-matched and out-numbered in the midfield for long-stretches. Kyyle Bekker came on in the 75th minute and was an immediate factor, giving his manager something to think about going forward.dddddddddddd. The decision on the wings isnt much easier. Dominic Oduro was solid in the start, as was Daniel Lovitz who continues to improve. Jackson is another option and may be preferred to Oduro. The Brazilian was the best player on the field 10 days ago against Chivas before losing composure and being sent off. Hes more reliable defensibly than Oduro, which may lead to a prompt return to the starting line-up despite drawing the ire of Vanney. Dwayne De Rosario and Andrew Wiedeman are other options, although both will most likely remain on the periphery. Both were positive substitutions in the comeback win. Vanney has options. Its up to the inexperienced manager how to use them best. 3) Forward Planning a€“ Vanney likewise has difficult decisions to make up front with Jermain Defoe likely available. Defoe last played August 23, sidelined with a groin injury. Luke Moore and Gilberto have grown in confidence in Defoes absence but have only combined for two goals in the six games missed by the star forward. Defoe still leads Toronto in scoring by four goals (11) despite appearing in just 16 matches. Defoe will play if fit, but the question begs when and how much? Perhaps Vanney takes a cautious approach against the Galaxy. It will be a tough game in Los Angeles and Vanney may think its not worth risking Defoe from the start with more winnable games ahead. If Saturdays game remains close, Defoe could then come on as a second half sub and attempt to play difference-maker. This is the most likely scenario. If Defoe is fit to start, then Moore should make way. Moore has looked less lively than Gilberto, with the pace of the Brazilian causing problems for the opposition. However, the Defoe-Moore partnership was a more effective pairing early this season. There is plenty to think about. If Gilberto were more consistent in front of goal, the decision would be a no-brainer. As a Designated Player, this should be Gilbertos time to shine. 4) Out of this Galaxy a€“ Torontos final regular season match against a Western Conference opponent comes against arguably the best. No team is hotter in MLS, undefeated in their last nine, scoring 28 goals in the process. The strike force of Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes is the most dangerous in MLS, scoring a combined 33 goals. The Landon Donovan retirement tour rolls on, with the all-time great adding 10 goals and an incredible 18 assists along the way. No question this will be the Toronto back fours stiffest test yet. The Galaxy have already qualified for the MLS playoffs and are pushing for the Supporters Shield, level on points (57) with the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy are tops in MLS in goals for (63) and have the best defensive record (31) as well. Add it all up and a draw would be massive on the most difficult away match yet. Temper expectations. Litmus test, coming up. 5) Eastern Promise a€“ Scoreboard watching is inevitable this time of year. The Chicago Fire did Toronto a favour Thursday, drawing the Philadelphia Union 1-1. The Union has played two games more and remain one point back of Toronto. Good news. Two other huge Eastern Conference match-ups are worth following Saturday. The Red Bulls host the Houston Dynamo, who also remain in the playoff mix. Its a must-win game for the Dynamo, five points back of their opponent heading in. New York leads Toronto by one point for the final playoff spot, as previously mentioned. Elsewhere the surging New England Revolution host the Columbus Crew in a battle of two teams Toronto is chasing. The Revs moved into second place in the conference on 45 points last weekend after a big 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, also on 45 points. The Crew is in fourth on 43 points. The hope is New England continues to roll, as the sooner the Revs lock up a playoff berth the better. Toronto FC pays a trip to New England in their final game of the season. A meaningless game for the Revs would set up well for the travelling Reds who will most likely go down to the wire in their playoff push. You can listen to Los Angeles Galaxy v. Toronto FC on TSN 1050 Radio (pre-match at 10pm et) and watch on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, and TSN5. You can reach Gareth Wheeler @WheelerTSN and gareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca China NFL Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Basketball Jerseys Online Stitched Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Baseball Jerseys Football Jerseys Outlet College Jerseys For Sale Cheap MLB Jerseys Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys For Sale Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '