In case you haven’t noticed, the Leafs are playing some decent hockey


Mike Babcock for coach of the year?

If the voting were done today, he’d probably get my vote. (Also, I’d need to be eligible to vote.)

Yes, I’m aware the Toronto Maple Leafs have only won six games. But here’s the thing: they’ve actually been pretty competitive this year. And with four wins in their last five tries — including victories in Dallas and Nashville — it’s starting to show in the results.

“It’s just a change of mentality,” said young defenseman Morgan Rielly, perhaps the key player on the current roster, given the Leafs haven’t had a truly elite blue-liner since, who, Borje Salming? Or maybe Larry Murphy, before he was run out of town? Whatever. It’s been a while.

“There’s no question it’s been different,” Rielly continued. “The guys are looking forward to coming in. (Babcock) is doing something that all the guys are agreeing with. We all want to win for him and compete every night. The credit goes to him. He’s done a really good job of keeping us driven and focused and the results are starting to come.”

Consistently one of the worst puck-possession teams in the NHL the last few seasons, the Leafs’ score-adjusted Corsi currently ranks 18th, per

Hey, I didn’t say they were a great team. Just that they were getting better. And isn’t that what Babcock was brought in to do? Slowly but surely, make them better.

Toronto’s next game is Friday in Carolina.