Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has a difficult task ahead of him. That point was reinforced by Toronto’s 4-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres tonight.
Sure it was just an exhibition game, but for a team trying to undergo a culture change, the circumstances of that loss are relevant, especially seeing as it was the Leafs’ veteran players that seemed to be the problem.
“We’ve got to get our veterans playing the right way,” Babcock said, per TSN. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to get them playing. We can talk about kids; that’s a nice sideline story in exhibition but you’ve got to get your players to play.”
Babcock called on the team’s top players to lead the way.
“I didn’t think the people that you perceive as our good players were good enough, not even close,” he said.
After getting off to a strong start, Toronto has now lost three straight preseason games and has been shutout of the last two. Again, these are exhibition contests being discussed so the results can’t be read into too much, but Babcock does feel that the team isn’t spending enough time in the offensive zone.
To put this all into context, even if we were to take the Maple Leafs’ recent results at face value, it’s worth emphasizing that expectations are low for the team this season as they focus on rebuilding. After all, when he took the job, Babcock warned that there’s “pain coming.” He likely wasn’t referring to a couple preseason shutout losses when he made that prediction.
Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay in tonight’s Kraft Hockeyville game obviously won’t count towards the standings, but Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was still concerned by what he felt was his team’s sloppy play.
“I know it’s only preseason, but we have two games left to get things going, so that’s alarming,” Stamkos said, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.
It might be more than just the Lightning’s play that’s in danger of carrying into the regular season. Defenseman Victor Hedman suffered an undisclosed injury that caused him to leave the game in the second period.
The Lightning are describing Hedman’s injury as minor, although he will need to be evaluated on Wednesday. With the Lightning’s season opener just a little over a week away, the status of players dealing with day-to-day ailments is increasing in importance.
Lightning fans looking for a silver lining though can turn their attention to Jonathan Drouin. He found the back of the net tonight and Lightning coach Jon Cooper has noticed that the 20-year-old forward is playing with more confidence.
After winning the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA event, the fans of Johnstown, Pennsylvania were treated to Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay tonight at Cambria County War Memorial.
The arena was featured in the movie Slap Shot, so naturally the Hanson Brothers were tasked with giving the Penguins an inspirational pregame speech:
It seemed to do the trick as Sergei Plotnikov put the Penguins ahead just 14 seconds into the game. Evgeni Malkin provided the deciding marker in the exhibition contest.
In addition to the city, which has an population of about 20,000, getting to host an NHL game, being selected also meant that Cambria County War Memorial received $150,000 in arena upgrades.
Related — PHT Morning Skate: Favorite ‘Slap Shot’ characters
David Moss hasn’t played in the AHL since 2007, but he might be back there this season.
The 33-year-old forward has accepted a professional tryout offer with the Milwaukee Admirals, per the team’s website. They are the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.
Moss had four goals and 12 points in 60 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season. He’s a veteran of 501 NHL contests between his time with the Calgary Flames and Coyotes.
At one time he was a decent offensive contributor, but he hasn’t recorded more than 10 goals or 30 points since 2010-11. He also saw his role with the Coyotes decline last season after accepting a one-year, $800K contract in the summer of 2014 that served as a substantial pay cut from his previous deal.
Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson isn’t afraid of Eric Boulton’s despite the New York Islanders forward’s claim to the contrary — at least that was the message from Capitals coach Barry Trotz.
Wilson has a heated history with the Islanders as a big hit from him ended Lubomir Visnovsky’s 2014-15 campaign and led Kyle Okposo to calling him an “idiot.” Wilson thought that perhaps those hostilities ended with the season, but Boulton and Scott Mayfield tried to draw him into a fight during Monday’s exhibition game between the Capitals and Islanders.
Wilson didn’t take the bait and while Boulton asserted that Wilson “was scared to death” of him, Trotz offered a very different explanation.
“I told (Wilson) before the game there’s only one reason the Islander player is in the lineup and I don’t want him to fight him,” Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I said I need for you to play. I also told him if (Boulton) is on the ice with you, you’ve got to be involved. You don’t want to get jumped. If he’s coming at you and you can’t get out of it you’ve got to go at it.
“But I told him to back off and play. He’s not scared of anybody or anything. I just need him to play.”
Trotz wants Wilson to still be a “hard and nasty” player, but he also plans to use him in an expanded role. Wilson will help kill penalties this season and might eventually get a role with the man advantage after getting almost no special teams ice time last season.