Maple Leafs’ Mikhail Grabovski in coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse

For Randy Carlyle, the problems facing Mikhail Grabovski can’t be measured in numbers.

The struggling Maple Leafs centre found himself on the third line on Monday at practice, and though that could change before the Leafs entertain the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, it’s clear that Grabovski has some work to do to unleash himself from Carlyle’s doghouse.

And the quickest way for Grabovski to do that? Start putting forth a better effort.

“We have talked with him and the conversation is based upon a starting point … the faceoff circle,” Carlyle said following the 90-minute workout at the MasterCard Centre.

“Starting with the puck more (so) we are not having to play defence as much to start. The second part is to use his speed and his ability to get on the puck on the forecheck. Those are the strengths and the first two steps are asking. We think the other stuff will come with that. We know what type of player he can be. The conversations have been open and up front and we will continue to work at that.”

The “other stuff” that Carlyle referenced are the points. Grabovski has just six goals and five assists in 29 games. A little more glaring is the 29-year-old’s lack of production at the Air Canada Centre, where he has one point — a goal against the New York Islanders on Jan. 24 — in 14 games.

Leave a Reply