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.