The Toronto Maple Leafs were crushed by the Tampa Bay Lightning last night.
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make the necessary adjustments, and it cost them.
Obviously Mitch Marner’s line got crushed.
Obviously the Leafs need Freddie Andersen to play better.
But I though the biggest problem with last night’s game was Mike Babcock and his failure to adjust, or to be creative or proactive. Which he never does.
Toronto Maple Leafs Babcock Bad for the Team
The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best rosters in the NHL, but if you go back over the last 60 games, they’re nothing but a .500 team.
At some point, the failure of this roster has to fall on the shoulders of the coach. If a new coach doesn’t make a difference, then the Leafs may have to rethink their philosophy, but for now, it’s a coaching issue.
Personally, I believe in what Kyle Dubas is doing, but he and Babcock are clearly not on the same page. From Babcock’s comments to the media last year regarding his roster, to the style he has his team play, I think it’s been obvious for a long time that the two aren’t on the same page.
It’s not hard to figure out: the decorated coach who first broke into the NHL when Dubas was 17 might not be keen on taking direction from anyone, let alone someone younger than some of the players on his team.
Compound this with the fact that a lot of what Dubas is selling is in direct opposition to the way Babcock made his reputation.
Now add in the fact that his old-school motivation style probably doesn’t work well with in today’s world.
I can’t wait to see this team play in front of a player’s coach with progressive ideas. Do any of Babcock’s players want to win for him? I highly doubt it. If he’s been your coach for three, four years, he’s probably an easy guy to tune out.
Last night’s game is just a microcosm of the Babcock Problem: he doesn’t adjust, he doesn’t try new things.
For instance, you couldn’t dream up a worse style of player to pair with Morgan Rielly, but there is Codi Ceci out there with Rielly hard-matched against the best line in the NHL.
Babcock’s great idea last night was to put Ceci and Rielly on the ice – two objectively bad defensive players – every time Kucherov and co. hit the ice.
That is crazy.
Or what about the fact that when Babcock saw Tampa had stacked their three best players onto one line, he did not respond? Why not move Tavares up to play with Matthews and Nylander, then at least neaturalize their elite super line with one of your own?
Tampa doesn’t have a fourth elite forward like the Toronto Maple Leafs do, so why not take advantage? Marner vs Tampa’s second line isn’t gonna hurt the Leafs.
Now, I’m not saying this is a perfect idea, I’m no NHL coach. But Babcock didn’t adjust at all.
The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t off to a bad start – it wouldn’t have taken much for Tampa to be their first loss of the season – but the frustration with Babcock is that he doesn’t change, he doesn’t adjust, and when something is working, he sticks with it.
It’s not too early to fire the coach, because truthfully, the Toronto Maple Leafs should have fired him over the summer.