Five Things That Babcock Could Do Better

Hey everybody, I’m back with a quick look at what I think Babcock should be doing differently with the Leafs. Before I get a bunch of ‘Babcock knows more than you’ comments, my answer would be ‘Yeah, yeah  whatever.’ Of course he does, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about some things that you would like to see done differently. It’s when it’s done to death, or beating a dead horse, that it gets to be a bit much in my view.

First thing, start the Matthews power play unit first. Now, that has been happening lately or at least a little more than it was before. Especially the last couple of games. Right now the Leafs power play is in 8th place, so all things considered, that’s not bad. It would be a hell of a lot better if your top player played on the first unit and would then get the most time on ice.

Second thing, when Zaitsev returns, move Polak out and have him sit more often. OK , I realize Babcock can’t do anything about that now because Zaitsev is still injured. In the meantime, I get why he has Polak in, because he kills penalties. (assuming he’s not in the penalty box himself) but after that I would like to see the defence pairings look like this:

https://twitter.com/mydogSnots/status/949817902827524096

Gardiner-Borgman pairing might look a little sketchy, so that may have to be adjusted. but Polak should be used sparingly. And everyone who has read anything from me knows how much I like Polak. The grit grinder of all grit grinders.

Third thing is tied in with number 2. Babcock is going to have to trust other players more when it comes to the PK. Hainsey is doing a great job on the penalty kill but he’s being used WAY TOO MUCH. Most times playing all two minutes of a kill. Babcock is going to burn him out before the playoffs even start if he doesn’t even out that load better.

Number 4 for me isn’t as high a priority as for a lot of other Leafs fans but actual TOI should be given more to their better players. I get that a lot of times these things are situational though.

The defence is actually pretty evenly spread out. The top four of Rielly, Gardiner, Zaitsev and Hainsey are all at about 22 minutes on average. (Polak at 16 minutes is high)

The forwards however:

Matthews – 18:36     Hyman – 17:45    Marleau – 17:05   Komarov – 16:44  Nylander – 16:40 Kadri – 16:17             Marner – 15:44   Bozak – 15:20        Brown – 15:00      JVR – 14:40

So like I said earlier, it’s not a huge thing for me but I would like to see Komarov’s ice trimmed by about 3/4 minutes also Marner/Nylander should play a bit more. I don’t know why Hyman is playing more than Marleau but it could be situational because he’s on the Matthews line.

And number 5 is (insert your comment here). Whether it’s shaking up the lines, putting this player here or there, wishing Babs wasn’t so stubborn or moving a player. Although that’s more Lou’s department.

The only way you can like EVERYTHING a coach does ALL THE TIME is because you aren’t paying close enough attention. Even the great Scotty Bowman, considered the best coach of all time, did some things that would make fans raise an eyebrow. Trust me I know. i have a lot of family that are Habs fans and as a kid I would hear things all the time!

Questioning a coach doesn’t mean you think he’s a bad coach, in fact I’m very happy that we have Mike Babcock. I can’t think of another coach that I would rather have for the team! Am I right? I don’t know. But I do know that this team can play better and they aren’t so these are steps that I think could help the team GET better.

Anywho, the team is on a 5 day break. Instead of waiting for the Leafs to play another game, catch some games including other teams. Maybe even hate-watch the Bruins so you can have a better look at the team the Leafs will probably be playing in the first round in the playoffs.

Have a good one.

Cousin Eddie. @mydogsnots

One thought

  1. Solid observations. I realize the playoffs are now over and I came to this a bit late [well real late]. I think Babs loosened up a bit when he finally stopped flipping coins to see whether it’d be Marner or Nylander on the 4th line and put Leo down there to close out the season.

    Lou, in his defense, can only provide players as options for Mike to use. I think Leo maybe moving along will make room for young Grundstrum and removing the temptation of saddling the top line or Kadri’s line with him where he can’t seem to take a pass or make one at this point in his career. Leo’s a great old grinder but the 4th line was a more appropriate spot.

    I’ll jump the gun Eddie. This coming season, will Hyman learn to pass Matthews the puck? You know, not just dig on the boards and keep the puck in his not so much fun zone? I mean, his assist record does not bear out Babcock’s mantra of “He gets them the puck and I like a guy to get the puck.” <– as if Auston doesn't get his own and Willy is an utter numbskull who doesn't hold puck possession [which he does a lot of the time when he gets it for himself or he gets it from Auston].

    At any rate, the dogged Babcock idea that every line needs a 4th line type player like he was when he played only works if said player distributes the puck after he gets it. When Auston had both Hyman and Brown on his line for game 7 against Boston, to my mind, handcuffed the kid because those guys were not premier puck distributers. Matthews is a great defensive and offensive Center but in the "Fun" zone, he is a trigger man primarily and if there is no Nylander at least on his one wing… that usually means that Auston is forced to the boards or the corners to fetch his own puck and the slot is empty.

    Asside from looking as though the they haven't got a clue how to exit their own zone very well & often look confused and un-coached there, they also don't attack the slot very well. For me, those are the two biggest areas the Leafs will have to improve in 2018-2019. Better exit strategies with one forward always back to give the defense a target instead of all 3 forwards blowing the zone AND drilling into the forwards that if one guys on the boards you have to provide a clear target for them to pass out to & then move the puck into the slot area as often as possible. The Leafs just sucked at attacking the slot. The forwards seemed to excel at swinging wide to enter the zone with nobody in the middle ice area to even pass the puck to.

    That's where I'd like to see some improvement. I mean… aren't you sick of waiting for poor Gardiner having to figure out who to long bomb the puck to because all three forwards have blown the zone and are goal sucking up by the opposing teams blue line? That should be an option but the D-man needs a safer option because lets face it, the other teams were anticipating those passes and cutting them off mid ice or even at our blue line and in to our net by the end of the year.

    Thanks for Sharing Eddie! Good Stuff bud!

    Bob

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