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TORONTO -- The first practice of Toronto Maple Leafs training camp was brought to you by the letter "D." "Probably the whole year," forward Matt Frattin said. "Defence wins championships." Forget about a championship for a second. The Leafs are just trying to win more games and make the playoffs. After giving up almost 36 shots a game last year, the most in the NHL, coach Randy Carlyle and his staff spent Saturday installing a new defensive-zone system. Its not a drastic difference, but there are tweaks that players hope will make them more effective and less vulnerable this season. "Were going to try something a little different," winger Joffrey Lupul said. "I think its going to take a little bit of the second-guessing out of it. .. Its nothing that no ones never seen before. "I think maybe last year was something weve never seen before. This is more back to kind of how you grew up playing." Most kids dont grow up playing a style that sees them get outshot by eight per game, and one of the goals this season is to have the puck more and, as a result, put goaltenders Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer under less pressure. Step one is changing some responsibilities. Bernier described it as players swarming the puck less and needing to be more patient. Much of the change has to do with wingers cheating more to the point than collapsing toward the net. "Sometimes last year it worked, sometimes it felt like that puck was always getting up top and they were getting a lot of shots because of it," Lupul said. "Its systematically a little different, but at the end of the day it comes down to those one-on-one battles." Along with new assistants Steve Spott and Peter Horachek, Carlyle said the staff went over different scenarios this summer and didnt make too many major changes to systems. Like everything else, defence is about the little things. "The difference is, where do you move your winger? Do you move him down the wall to squeeze or do you hold him tight to the point coverage? Do you hold a guy in the middle of the ice?" Carlyle said. "Those are things: your rotation when the puck changes sides, who goes. "Theyre all basically based on the same thing, other than the fact that we have to do a better job of being stiffer and harder to play against." Carlyle said veteran Roman Polak, acquired during the draft from the St. Louis Blues for Carl Gunnarsson, can help in that area. But Polak is just one defenceman, and the Leafs know as a group they have to be better defensively than last season. One area is communication. "Any time you can have a group of guys that communicate, it makes the game a lot easier and it makes it a lot easier to make plays," defenceman Cody Franson said. "I think thats one area we can definitely improve in, and itll help us break out of zones a lot quicker." One simple goal for the Leafs is to have the puck more than they did last season, but thats easier said than done. When they dont have it, they know they have to be better at cutting down on quality chances. Centre Nazem Kadri said "its going to take some time to wrap our heads around" the new defensive system. But Carlyle isnt worried about players picking it up. "Theyll get it," Carlyle said. "That what this is about, thats what the exhibition games are about. "As a coaching staff, you pick your poison on the things that youre going to shove at the players, and I guarantee you every coach is shoving defensive-zone coverage." Notes -- Centre Tyler Bozak and right-winger David Clarkson are out with what Carlyle called lower-body injuries. The players got hurt during pre-training camp workouts, and theres no time frame for their training-camp debuts. Carlyle said he did not foresee them being long-term problems. ... The Leafs signed Quebec Remparts defenceman Cody Donaghey to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old from St. Johns, N.L., impressed at rookie camp in London, Ont., to earn a spot in main camp. Custom New York Giants Jerseys . -- Top-seed Shahar Peer and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the second round of the inaugural WTA Citi Open. Cody Latimer Giants Jersey . Winners of two straight, the Flames will try to become the first team in 25 years to go three consecutive games without taking a penalty Saturday night in San Jose. http://www.giantsauthenticshop.com/Yout ... ts-Jersey/. Azarenka needed exactly one hour in a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Austrian Yvonne Meusburger to start the night session at Laver Arena. Sharapova had a much easier time earlier in the day with cooler conditions and took full advantage in 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) win over Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, while Radwanska had to rally for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Will Hernandez Giants Jersey . It has been eleven years, eight months, and 261 days since I played my last CFL game. Saquon Barkley Giants Jersey . -- The Minnesota Vikings released reserve cornerback A.With a new NHL season upon us, hopefully this will be a refreshed blog, with plans to post every day Monday-Friday, and include stats, lineup notes, injuries and other details from the night before. Im also going to try to use it as an outlet for responding to e-mail and Twitter questions, and -- please note -- Ill be doing chats on TSN.ca every Friday. So come with questions, whether they involve fantasy hockey or analytics and lets have a great season. Today, its Grabovski making a point, Eller in fine form, Troubas instant impact and some recommendations for stats-oriented hockey fans. 1. After one game for the Washington Capitals, it turns out that Mikhail Grabovski is still a pretty decent hockey player. Grabovski scored three goals, added and assist while starting more of his shifts in the offensive zone, at least compared to last year, when his usage was drastically different in Toronto. Its only one game, of course, but its notable that Grabovski was among the Capitals leaders in offensive zone starts and hes being used in an offensive capacity, which plays to his strengths. This comes on the heels of Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle saying that he wants the Leafs to be more of a puck possession team this year, as though the decisions made in the summer (like buying out Grabovski and re-signing Tyler Bozak, for example) have no bearing on the teams ability to play an improved puck possession game. Even after being put into a defensive role last season, Grabovskis puck possession numbers have been better than those recorded by Bozak over the past three seasons. Why compare Grabovski specifically to Bozak? Because the decision to buy out Grabovski only came into play because the Maple Leafs were choosing to re-sign Bozak, who was an unrestricted free agent in the summer. If they let Bozak leave, Grabovski would fit in an open scoring centre slot, not unlike the one hes found in Washington. While Grabovskis buyout doesnt affect the Maple Leafs cap, it still required more than $14-million and I dont care how much revenue pours in to MLSE, no one likes paying a player $14-million to play somewhere else, especially if turns out that he could be better than the guy theyve agreed to pay $21-million over the next five seasons. 2. Now, in the interest of fair play, it should be pointed out that Bozak scored a shorthanded breakaway goal and took 27 (winning 15) of the Maple Leafs 55 face-offs against Montreal Tuesday, his 21:13 of ice time leading all Maple Leafs forwards. His possession numbers werent ideal but, again, this is one game and Grabovski did much of his damage (two goals and one assist) on the power play, so his even-strength possession numbers werent great either. At the same time, these comparisons are going to get made. When teams choose one player over another, especially at the same position, its inevitable. 3. The Canadiens had a productive game out of what is ostensibly their third line -- C Lars Eller (2 G, 1 A, +2, 6 SOG) , LW Alex Galchenyuk (2 A) and RW Brendan Gallagher (1G). The oddity of it all is that Montreal didnt seem to use Galchenyuk and Gallagher as much as they could. The sophomore wingers played 13:23 and 11:26, respectively. Brandon Prust and Travis Moen both played more than 12 minutes against Toronto, so there was more of an emphasis on the physical game, it appears. For Eller, whose 2013 season ended when he was knocked out by Senators D Eric Gryba, it was an ideal return to action from an individual standpoint, showing that he is strong, healthy and capable of being productive right awway.dddddddddddd 4. Jets rookie D Jacob Trouba announced his presence in his first NHL game. After one year at Michigan, the 9th overall pick from 2012 stepped into the Jets lineup, played 25:02 to lead both teams, and scored his first NHL goal along with an assist. If hes a top four (or even top pair) defenceman right out of the gate -- he was paired with Zach Bogosian -- then Trouba can be a difference-maker for the Jets. 5. Blackhawks sophomore LW Brandon Saad (1 G, 2 A, +2) opened the season on Chicagos third line, with Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, but was still plenty productive. Bryan Bickell, who has the top line left wing spot, alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, had one shot on goal in 15:05. 6. Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 1 A, -2, 9 SOG) had a strong opening game. In 126 games over the previous two seasons, hed registered nine shots or more twice, so doing it in Chicago, against the Blackhawks, seems like a decent initial indication that hes on his game. 7. Oilers LW, er, C Taylor Hall played 23:30 against Winnipeg, a threshold hed crossed twice in 171 previous NHL games. Playing primarily with Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky, they took puck possession lumps against the Jets. 8. Were going to wrap up todays blog with a few recommendations. First, for anyone interested in hockeys advanced stats or simply taking a different look at the game, this seasons Hockey Prospectus is a must-read. I wrote the Foreword to the HP annual a couple of years ago, emphasizing that hockey analytics should be a growth industry, and appreciate the work that some very smart people put into the analysis every year. Ive been fortunate enough to meet some of them at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, including editor Timo Seppa and Brian Macdonald. Ive worked on a few things with Rob Vollman (who published his own, also recommended, Hockey Abstract this summer too) and have chatted with a few more on Twitter, including prospect ace Corey Pronman and I appreciate people challenging the status quo when it comes to player and team analysis. Its good stuff. 9. Not to be confused with TSNs Fantasy Hockey League Manager (which is also great!), Ive started playing Franchise Hockey Manager, a hockey simulator presented by OOTP, makers of Out of the Park Baseball. Ive played their baseball game and enjoyed it, but was anxious for their release of the hockey product. I spent way too much time in my youth playing Hockey League Simulator II and loved the idea of picking my teams, setting lines, making trades etc -- this was really before fantasy hockey had taken hold online -- and you could play through a season in a night. Maybe a long night, but it could be done. The amount of detail involved is great -- they have rosters and prospects for all NHL teams, but also for junior and European leagues -- and its still fun to mix and match line combinations. If youre into that kind of stat-nerdy thing, give it a look. 10. Finally, research is the heart of this job. I watch and I listen and I read and I dig for more and there are many websites that I turn to in order to have a handle on whats happening in the NHL. These are some that I will link to a lot throughout the season: www.behindthenet.ca www.capgeek.com www.leftwinglock.com www.hockey-reference.com stats.hockeyanalysis.com www.extraskater.com www.hockeyfights.com www.hockeydb.com Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Cheap Jerseys Online Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys Youth NFL Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping ' ' '
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