BUFFALO, N.Y. - Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock wasn't mincing words when it came to his stars' performance in a 4-0 pre-season loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Simply put, he says, they have to do better.
"I didn't think the people that you perceive as good players were good enough, not even close,'' Babcock said following the Leafs' second straight shutout defeat in exhibition play. "They have to lead the way. That's their job.''
Robin Lehner made 26 saves and rookie Jack Eichel scored his second short-handed goal of the pre-season to lead the Sabres. Evan Rodrigues scored twice and Matt Moulson rounded out the Buffalo offence.
The Maple Leafs were coming off a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
"In the end, when you don't score any goals and they get four and all four of them come on turnovers, I mean you can't sugar coat that part of it,'' Babcock said. "I thought our kids were good, I didn't think we got anything out of our top two lines.''
Eichel, who was selected by Buffalo with the second overall pick in this year's NHL draft, scored shorthanded in the first period to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
"He's a pretty good player. You can see him out there,'' Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier said of Eichel. "He creates a lot out there.''
Bernier made 14 saves on 17 shots through 30:12. James Reimer stopped 14-of-15 shots the rest of the way.
Bernier said he wasn't too concerned with his team's shortcomings on Tuesday.
"I think you want to get your game shape in but Friday, Saturday, that's the game that you really got to put your foot down and focus and make sure you're ready for the first game,'' he said.
"I think we're getting better everyday and we need to make sure we're good on details. That's the main thing. We want to make sure everybody's on the same page when you get started.''