When the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas addressed the media yesterday at the halfway point of the 2020-21 regular season, he discussed a number of areas about the Maple Leafs’ first half of the season. In this post, I’ll share his comments about the the team’s overall defense and suggest three reasons why he – as a general manager – is happy.
Reasons for Focusing on the Maple Leafs’ Defense
The reason I’ve chosen what Dubas notes about his defense is that, when the Maple Leafs assessed the team’s needs during the offseason, it settled on team defense as perhaps THE key area of needed improvement. Then, to put his money where his mouth was, Dubas traded two desirable forwards – Kasperi Kapanen (to the Pittsburgh Penguins) and Andreas Johnsson (to the New Jersey Devils) to have the salary cap to improve that aspect of the team.
His two key moves on defense were signing T.J. Brodie and Zach Bogosian, both as UFAs. Both have proved to add needed skill and grit to the blue line. As a result, Dubas is generally happy with his team’s improvement on defense through the first half of the season.
Listening to Dubas Talk about His Team’s Defense
In this video below, you can hear Dubas assess his team’s defense over the first half of the 2020-21 season based on their overall defence. As I noted, this matters because it was the team’s primary focus for improvement during the offseason.
Reasons for Dubas’ Happiness with the Maple Leafs’ Defense
Dubas was asked the question: “You and Sheldon had talked about focusing on team defense and keeping guys to the outside. In general, through the first half of the season, can you talk about how guys have bought in and the improvements that you have made in that respect?”
Dubas gave three reasons for believing that his team was doing well defensively.
Reason One: Dubas responded that the team has been generally happy with the improvements he’s seen that the team has made “in the area of the quality of chances and goals the team was giving up.” Although he did note that the team was “coming off of back-to-back games where we gave up more than we wanted to in terms of goals and chances.”
Reason Two: Dubas noted that he has witnessed the “commitment … from our absolute best offensive players to the defensive side and them sort of leading the way.”
Reason Three: Dubas final point about the defense was that because the top offensive players now “can excel in all three zones of the rink, it forces everybody else on your team to do the same.”
Dubas Bottom Line?
Dubas noted that the team has been “very happy;” however, he thinks “we still have a lot of room where we can get better in it, though, and that is what we will be looking for in the second half.”
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