Hockey's Only Three Days Away

Bruce Bennett

Jay McClement is slated to be a big defensive piece this year but what do we know about how Randy Carlyle might use his forwards?

James Mirtle has been cranking out some great work that I am sure we are all reading but his latest on Jay McClement had a couple of interesting notes. One that I wanted to focus on was on were Andy Murray's comments on using defensive specialists to shield younger players and James' mention of Carlyle's deployment of lines in Anaheim:

"He just does the right things all the time," Murray said. "You need players like Jay on any team. I know a couple of GMs called me last year at the trade deadline and were looking at him.

"Sure he's not going to score the goals for you. But he'll do everything else that helps you win."

Without top-tier players that excel at both offensive and defensive roles, Murray explained, sometimes it's better to rely on specialists at both ends of the rink.

In other words, the Leafs could use a McClement-led shutdown line - just as Carlyle did to great effect with Pahlsson during the Anaheim Ducks' 2007 Cup run - against other teams' stars and keep their defensively suspect snipers like Phil Kessel or Joffrey Lupul protected.

"When you're young, like we were in St. Louis, you're not good enough to play power on power," Murray said. "You cannot play your top players against the best teams' top players. We needed a line that had the responsibility of making sure that we defended our game.

"He also put up some numbers. The reason was that sometimes the top units on the other teams didn't play defence."

This is the kind of approach that the Leafs have been needing. We didn't get the longest look at Carlyle last season but 67Sound looked at the Anaheim Ducks 2006-07 Stanley Cup winning season and how the players on that team were deployed. The interesting thing, aside from how cute it was to think Colby Armstrong would actually dress, is that Brian Burke's bluster about team building didn't match up with reality. I know, stunning.

Having said that, it is definitely the approach that the Leafs should be using

Your morning links

Leafs 48-Game Predictions
A lot of these predictions are way out of whack. The equivalent to a 260 goal 82 games season? Ok,if you say so.

Jay McClement Targeted by Leafs to be "The Stopper"
Carlyle knows that he's no Sami Pahlsson right?

Leafs Training Camp: Notes from Tuesday's Session
People skated and stuff.

Could Tim Connolly Recapture his Former Sabres Impact?
No, probably not.

Should the Leafs Sign Any of the "Big Free" RFAs to an Offer Sheet?
Yes. His name is PK Subban.

2013 NHL Season Preview: Eastern Conference
DGB looks at the season ahead.

On Playing Wing, Switching Wings, and Life on Your Off-Side
Personally I love playing the off wing.

Mark Fistric and the Magic Age
mc79 looks to see if 3rd pairing guys take a little longer than most.

Ode to a Drill-Wrecker
I hate that guy.

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