Babcock Happy with Matthews and Other Kids, Wants Maple Leafs Veterans to Step up
TORONTO — As hard as it was not to keep talking about Auston Matthews and his four-goal NHL debut, Mike Babcock had to move ahead with business on Thursday morning.
Matthews and the team went through a practice heavy on defensive coverage. Blueliner Matt Hunwick was back after a bone-jarring hit and head cut in Ottawa the night before and newcomer Seth Griffith worked out with the forwards.
The 5-4 overtime loss to Ottawa spoiled Matthews’ jaw-dropping first game, however, the Leafs were using the overall body of work as a positive to get ready for Saturday’s home opener against Boston.
“Nice to see how good our kids can be,” Babcock said at the MasterCard Centre, “but the guys who are supposed to lead the way have to do that as well.”
Matthews had at least one more nifty goal during 3-on-3 drills Thursday and, in what might become a ritual, had to handle two media scrums, for electronic and print, to satisfy demand.