Leafs and Habs on a Saturday night.
It’s typically a high-octane affair. But, it’s the pre-season. And, it’s midway through the pre-season where players could start running into a wall.
The effort on Saturday night has Maple Leafs head coach Babcock realizing a break is needed.
“It looked like the coaching staff has skated the guys right into the ground and it looked like we don’t have a lot of jump,” said Babcock. “You can only get so much blood out of stone. I thought they were honest with their effort. I didn’t think we could move and I thought it was apparent.”
Perhaps that assessment will make forward Devin Setoguchi feel better about his play.
“Personally I could have done a little bit more,” lamented the forward, who is with the Leafs on a professional tryout. “I’m a little disappointed with the opportunity I had. You just have to try and forget about it and move on as fast as possible.”
The Leafs kept the shot count against to 21, but managed to fire seven shots total in the final 40 minutes.
James Reimer was the benefactor of reduced traffic in front of him.
After being chased out in his first pre-season game, Reimer improved with a 20-save performance.
“Today I felt far more comfortable,” said Reimer who compared his night with his game in Ottawa where he was pulled after allowing three goals. “I was able to see the puck and see most of it.”
Jake Gardiner continues to be a workhorse on defence. His 26:48 of ice-time was more than six minutes above the next highest Leaf.
After a day to clear their head, it will be back to work. Players will have a better sense of where they stand on this team.
There are three pre-season games left. More cuts are expected before then.
The good news is nobody has been injured in training camp. Babcock has had the full services of everyone one the roster.
The competition to win any spot will be just that tough.