It appears Derek Lalonde and Jon Cooper are going to need to have a conversation if the two ever want to stay on each other’s Christmas card list. Cooper is taking aim at Lalonde, who while his currently the coach of Detroit Red Wings, but acting as an analyst for Sportsnet during the playoffs, after his comments about Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
During one of the broadcasts of Toronto vs. Tampa, Lalonde talked about Tampa’s goaltender letting in a number of goals in a comeback win for Toronto. He noted, “We had done a study back in the day” that revealed he was “one of the lower percentage goalies in finding pucks from the point. So we actually changed our entire D-zone and improved our pass rush.” In other words, he noted that Vasilevskiy has a weakness there, the Lightning knew it, so they changed their defensive strategy to compensate. He suggested Toronto has now figured it out and will exploit this moving forward in the series.
Most fans have been impressed with Lalonde’s work on the show and are fascinated by the way he’s breaking down plays and giving an inside perspective as to what’s going on in nearly real-time. Cooper doesn’t seem as impressed. When asked about Derek Lalonde’s comments: “I heard about it,” Cooper told reporters. “Listen, Sportsnet is paying him well to go give an opinion, so he has to make something up about that kind of stuff. When it came to the comments specifically regarding Andrei Vasilevskiy, Cooper added, “He’s there because he was an assistant coach on this team. So he’s trying to offer insight and trying to give fans something and he should be doing that. He’s just got to make sure it’s accurate.”
The suggestion here from Cooper (and, of course, he’s going to respond this way) is that Lalonde isn’t telling the truth and this isn’t a hole in the netminder’s Vezina-caliber game. Time will tell if it is or isn’t. You can bet the Maple Leafs will continue to try and go after this and subject Vasilevskiy to as many point shots as possible as they try to eliminate Tampa from their first-round series. If the goaltender makes an adjustment, that’s good news for Tampa. If he doesn’t it could mean lights out.
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