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Rightly or wrongly, the focus is all on Phil Kessel in the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs tossing coach Randy Carlyle overboard on Tuesday.

The new guy has some new ideas for Kessel, too.

It was a busy day in Toronto as they officially named Peter Horachek, an assistant, as the interim head coach and moved player development advisor Steve Staios behind the bench.

Day 1 of the Horachek era brings a tough opponent in the Washington Capitals, coached by Horachek's old pal Barry Trotz, and some new-look lines at the morning skate:


Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Santorelli



"You get a change," Kessel said of the new line. "Sometimes it's a good thing. We'll try our best out there."

Given who's healthy, that's probably as good as you can manage with this roster. It'll be fascinating to see how much line usage changes now that Carlyle's gone, as it felt like the fourth unit was playing less and less as the games went on.

Some may wonder what Winnik, never a big scorer, is doing on that top line, but it's about two things: balance and possession.

Kadri, who is expected to play despite being banged up, with Winnik has been a winning combination this year. On a team that currently has a 44 per cent possession rating, the Leafs are at nearly 52 per cent when Kadri and Winnik have been out there together.

Even better, they've scored 59 per cent of the goals at even strength.

The other thing is you can trust Winnik against other team's top lines, which isn't possible with the majority of the wingers in this lineup.

And Tyler Bozak has shown again and again he isn't able to compensate for that weakness on the wall.

"I talked to Peter – I think we've got a good relationship," Kessel said. "He's like 'go out there and play your game.' That's all he wants. I'm looking forward to doing that."

The other thing to keep an eye on Wednesday is whether or not Kadri gets bumped to the first power play unit, where he's scarcely played despite very solid production over the years with the man advantage.

This will be a tough game. The Capitals are red hot right now with a 10-1-3 record in their last 14 games and are getting outstanding goaltending from Braden Holtby.

They don't have a lot of offensive firepower in terms of depth up front, but Trotz has them playing well.

We'll see if Horachek can do the same in such a short time frame for the Leafs.