Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock wasn’t a very happy man following last night’s 2-1 OT loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the final minute of play, the Leafs surrendered a late tying goal to Blues forward, and former Leafs player, Alex Steen. Then 21-year-old rookie and Lindsay, Ontario native Vince Dunn won it for the Blues in overtime on a picture perfect end-to-end rush.
After the game, Babcock was none too pleased. The Leafs have squandered leads in each of their past three games, failing to stomp out the Blues, Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets while carrying late-game leads. It’s a trend that’s disturbing to Babcock, so on Tuesday night he let his team know exactly how he feels about the situation.
“You want to win this, you want to walk out of here feeling good,” said the Leafs bench boss. “But it’s simple, life is about lessons. Suck it up and find a way to win games.”
The message was loud and clear: No one is going to feel sorry for us. So suck it up.
Sophomore superstar Auston Matthews echoed his coach’s sentiment saying, “We’ve just got to find a way to win because this game should have definitely been our two points and we let it slip away.”
But, oh what a difference a day makes. At practice this morning Babcock was much more upbeat with reporters, even downplaying their concerns with the team’s record its past 10 games.
“When I look at our last few games, I think we’re in a good situation… I guess I don’t feel like you guys do, how’s that!?”
A good situation? The Leafs have dropped three straight. Three games in which they held the lead late in the game. Is this just more bluster and distraction from the media savvy Babcock?
The Leafs have struggled to score and hold leads lately… at what point does that failure fall on the coaching staff? For what it’s worth, Babcock seems to have an idea of the problem and attempted to address it specifically with practice today.
Whether or not it has the intended effects remains to be seen, however. The Leafs get back at it tomorrow in Philadelphia against the suddenly surging Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have four wins in their last five games and have averaged over 5 goals for in the same span.