Leafs Post-Game: Babcock’s Homecoming


So the Leafs… 

Well. It’s a rebuild. Guys, it’s game two and already, there are only so many different ways that I can tell you that the team looks like this by design. 

(Either that, or Mike Babcock is still secretly rooting for his old team to win, in which case there’s literally nothing we could do tonight.)

The Rundown

For the second game in a row, there’s not too much analysis to give; the Leafs were outmatched but gave a pretty solid effort, considering. 

The Detroit Red Wings are missing literally four players who would regularly be in their lineup – including Pavel Datsyuk, whose ability to play without ever aging seems to be directly linked to his need to play under Babcock – and they still managed to outscore the Leafs 4-0, but the Leafs themselves once again played a solid possession game given their talent level. Tyler Bozak actually managed to drive some possession (unlike Game One), Jake Gardiner and Mark Arcobello once again sat towards the top of the team’s possession charts (making them the only two carryovers from the game before in the possession category who didn’t drop significantly possession-wise in this particular game) and the entire club managed to keep pace with the Red Wings for shots on goal. 

Given the makeup of the Red Wings – who had an extremely excellent Dylan Larkin and the team’s nice, healthy supporting cast for an unREAL Abdelkader – and the makeup for the Leafs, the final score is about what fans should have expected. The game looked better than it did last year, though, and that’s all we can ask for. 

Blue Warrior


You know what? Matt Hunwick gets a giant, aggressive stick tap. 

Do I consider Matt Hunwick particularly stand-out in the talent department on the Leafs right now? No. He’s, at best, a bottom pairing guy at the NHL level – on most teams, I’d put him in the AHL and call him up when needed. Maybe make him an extra defenseman… but certainly not a guy who gets 18-20 minutes a night. 

Despite that, though, he went out and busted his butt in a game where the Leafs were outmatched from pretty much the first Justin Abdelkader goal on; the Leafs are going to be painful to watch for a bit, but not for lack of effort from the depth pieces brought in to ease the rebuild along. I wouldn’t say that Hunwick was a game-changer, but he worked a lot harder than some of the pieces who fans saw returning from last season.

Senatorial Sadness Up Next

The Leafs will face off next against the Ottawa Senators, who earned a decent victory over the Buffalo Sabres on opening night; the only player they allowed to score against them was Jack Eichel, and the Leafs don’t exactly have an Eichel in their lineup right now. 

Expect another loss with decent possession and *hopefully* plenty of energy. Two down, eighty to go. 

  • Brooksterman

    This is the fourth leaf coach (Wilson, Caryle, Horachek and now babcock) that gives Bozak more TOI then Kadri.

    Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

    Bozak is terrible hockey player who can’t score nor play defence. Waive Bozak and bring up Carrick.

    • Gary Empey

      Wise-up. Kadri is at best an average second line center. That is all he has ever shown at the NHL level. You say ” Bozak is terrible hockey player who can’t score nor play defence”. What does that have to do with Kadri’s game.

    • Douglas

      False, INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results
      Why don’t you Wait a few games, once they get a look at everyone they will see who plays where and gets what ice time.

      • Douglas

        Seems to me insanity is, in this case, not realizing that, if 4 NHL coaches in a row think Bozak is the best center they’ve got, they must be right. I really don’t get the widespread hatred for Bozak on this and many other fansites. The guy is actually a pretty talented, hard-working and responsible player – that’s why he’s getting the ice-time. And, in the past, when JVR and Kessel were allowed to cheat a little bit and score goals, he was really really good at winning pucks in the defensive zone and passing them off to those two. Nobody is scoring right now. Everyone’s learning a new system. I’ll be surprised if Bozak doesn’t figure it out before many others. But he needs to have wingers that can score. He’ll never be a pure goal-scorer. And it’s not his fault that the management hasn’t found us true elite no 1. C since Sundin. On the other hand, we did have a pretty good first scoring line until they decided to shut their game down and then trade Kessel. There’s lots of blame to go around for why Leafs suck and none of it has to do with Bozak.

  • Brooksterman

    And the complete stupidity of this organization (esp. dubas) for trading Kessel and retaining Bozak.

    Bozak. I mean Bozak. What are you Nonis’ illegimate kid. Complete stupidity

  • #97TRAIN

    Everyone has stated that this season would be a year of pain as long time observers of the leafs realize that this team is basically an expansion club.

    Leaf fans have to hope that the gazillion dollars spent on the abundance of management pays off. There are no guarantees as Edmonton has illustrated in the past decade.

    Seer’s psychic power wasn’t too sharp on his prediction. But one gets the gut feeling that the tide will turn as leaf fans watched a 19 year old kid for the Red Wings play a stellar game tonight.

    There is no doubt that the three amigos of Rogers, Bell and Larry attempted to stop the major bleeding that M.L.S.E. suffered in the second half of last season by bringing in that bushel full of management at a very high price, Babock alone $50 million.

    Thus as the defeats mount don’t be surprised to see leaf management call up some of the kids to try to stimulate interest as one can’t help but think that the corporate giants will take another big financial hit with the expansion roster they currently have.

    Hopefully the childish my dad is better than your dad or also known as Reimer is better than Bernier goofy discussion will end as neither of them will be around in 3 or 4 years. In fact 70% of the roster will likely be different in 4 years.

    All leaf fans can hope for is entertaining hockey at home as they are likely to be horrid on the road.

    One thing is certain this squad will produce another high draft pick which hopefully the leafs will use to pick the top defence prospect available in June 2016.

    Cat I’m not sure if you and I watch the same game as I observe Gardiner refusing to play defence and watch him skate miles but with little offensive results. For two thirds of last season despite a load of ice time he had two goals. He along with Phaneuf will be cast aside for the rebuilding project.

    I’m not sure if the city of Toronto is cursed as the Toronto professional big three teams the leafs, Jays and Raptors have appeared in 4 playoff rounds in the past decade. In comparison Boston has had 43 playoff rounds and each of the Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox have won the championship in the past decade.

    Now in those 4 playoff rounds the Toronto teams have played 12 home games. They have won a pathetic freaking 3 games for the most loyal sports fans out there.

    • Gary Empey

      Just because a 19 year old is the best player on your team (like Nylander) is no reason to have him on your NHL roster. Let Larkin over-ripen in the NHL until he is 24. Treat him the same as Gustav Nyquist.

      Here are some of the rookies who were good enough to make their NHL teams this year. McDavid, Eichel, Sam Bennett, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dylan Larkin, Sam Reinhart

  • jasken

    Nice read Cat.

    Although not really interested much right now in possession personally. What I saw tonight another attempt and solid effort although there were times they looked lost and Babcock had to right them by yelling and reminding them. It is an improvement and if they keep doing what their doing stay in the system and keep trying to perfect it eventually it will become second nature and the old habits will be totally removed.

  • Gary Empey

    Harrington and Marincin look really bad back there. Can’t count how many times Rielly or Gards had to overcompensate for their lack of awareness or foot speed.

    Hopefully Corrado draws in soon, but you get the feeling that the back end still needs serious work. Only the Hunwick-Phaneuf pairing looked okay. Like a decent second pairing.

    Still, it’s nice to see the team play better hockey. The Wings are clearly a very good team, much better than the Habs at controlling play, and I think those are the teams we’re going to struggle most against – well-balanced, possession-focused teams – so take these losses as expected.

    The team will get better, both this year and in future years.

  • Douglas

    I am a Red Wings fan. Babcock is a good coach. Give it some time. Please, please don’t let the confused fans in Toronto and the horrible media run your good players & coaches out of town like they have in the past.
    The traffic jams in your city suck!

  • #97TRAIN

    Bozak has more icetime than Kadri because he plays the penalty kill. If you think Kadri is a better penalty killer than you need to watch more games.

    Marlies dominated last night. The young leafs are learning how to play Babcock’s system down there so when they are ready to come up it will be an easy transition.

    Thinks are looking good if you know what to look for.

  • Brooksterman

    solid game for my man bernier. 3 goals on first 3 shots he faced. another goal on first shot he faced in the first minute. yay. he’s a #1 goalie alright. i hope reims comes to play and steals this game and dominates the sens like he usually does. babs badly needs a win before he starts killing guys.