Friendly re­minder

Maple Leafs learned from last year’s long list of blown leads ... An­other first-pe­riod bar­rage ... Lou keeps pre-game show short

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - LANCE HORNBY lhornby@post­ @sun­hornby

Among all the strange, strange sights on open­ing night, how about Mike Bab­cock clap­ping af­ter his team gave up a 5-1 lead.

Not that he didn’t feel like throt­tling a cou­ple of play­ers who took their foot off the gas as the New York Rangers roared back in the sec­ond pe­riod, but this was a teach­ing mo­ment and the hard-line coach went up and down the bench ex­hort­ing his team to stay on task and not let the en­ergy that car­ried them through the first pe­riod work against them.

“Last year was a re­ally big thing for giv­ing up leads,” Mitch Marner re­minded. “We know what it’s like to give up leads and we knew what to do. We stayed calm.”

What Bab­cock said be­hind closed doors in the in­ter­mis­sion was likely more pointed, but bot­tom line, Toronto is 2-0 and in for a gru­el­ing video ses­sion Sun­day. The coach did chalk some of the ebb and flow to the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of open­ing night, with many play­ers hav­ing family and friends at the ACC.

“It’s al­ways a lit­tle crazy. We started like a house on fire and you saw this kind of thing last year where we lost our way. It was hap­pen­ing and we talked about why is was hap­pen­ing, but we weren’t be­hind.”

Though 5-1 isn’t ex­actly the worst lead in hockey af­ter a pe­riod, never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of a last-minute goal.

Kevin Shat­tenkirk’s pow­er­play marker, a call­ing card the Rangers will have to use of­ten in what could be a chal­leng­ing year, was the first time Toronto had been short­handed all night. But it un­der­lined what the Rangers needed to do, ap­ply pres­sure on the Leafs in their end, be­fore their young sta­ble of swift shoot­ers could get room to op­er­ate.

“We’ll fix the things we have to fix,” Bab­cock said. “We’ve played in two home open­ers and found a way to win.”


“Knockin’ at the door, I have a thirst for more, more, more.”

The Leafs chan­neled the words from their new pregame video by the Arkells into deeds, set­ting the right tone for the sec­ond straight game they beat up an op­po­nent with a first-pe­riod bar­rage. The 8-5 fi­nal, which in­cluded only one Aus­ton Matthews as­sist, meant 15 goals in two games and was the high­est-scor­ing home opener since 1991 at the Gar­dens when they de­feated Detroit by the same score.

Af­ter the first 20 min­utes, only four Leafs skaters were with­out a point in four pe­ri­ods

Con­nor of the new sea­son — Brown, Eric Fehr

(who Do­minic was ex­changed for Moore

against the Rangers) Calle Rosen (mak­ing

Josh his de­but Satur­day) and Leivo,

who has yet to play.


The 48th High­landers piped in the new sea­son, moved up in the pro­gram to be­fore the warmups and per­form­ing be­fore a near-empty arena.

James van How­ever, winger Riems­dyk

was a lit­tle wist­ful that his fa­ther, Frans, couldn’t make it to see them.

“The first opener he’s not been here for,” said van Riems­dyk, who joined the Leafs in 2012. “My dad re­ally looks for­ward to all that stuff with the bag­pipes.”

Re­ally? Van Riems­dyk doesn’t sound like a Scot­tish name.

“He just loves that stuff for a rea­son, I don’t know why,” JVR laughed. Frans and wife Al­li­son went

Trevor van to see brother Riems­dyk’s

first game with Carolina on Satur­day night. Usu­ally it’s worked out they can see both sons’ open­ers on dif­fer­ent nights. The 48th also play The Maple Leaf For­ever at Thurs­day night’s Leg­end’s Row statue un­veil­ings, more than just mu­sic to the

Brad Conacher, ears of rep­re­sent­ing his late fa­ther Char­lie.

“This is just the best,” Conacher said. “They played that song the first year the Gar­dens opened and which I think should be the na­tional an­them. And I’m not the only one.”


Lou Lamor­iello

had a word with ACC game ops not to make the por­tion of the open­ing cer­e­monies in­volv­ing the Leafs to go very long, lest they get stiff. “There won’t be too much of that, just in­tro­duce them and get it go­ing,” Bab­cock said in the morn­ing. “But I think it’s im­por­tant to cel­e­brate with the fans, I re­ally do. There’s an ex­cite­ment in Toronto. Lots of guys will have fam­i­lies here, too, but we can’t let that get in our way. We have to be ma­ture about the process and play the right way.”

In de­scrib­ing the vibe around Toronto, Bab­cock re­layed a story from his morn­ing run when a se­cu­rity guard shouted at him: “We be­lieve! We be­lieve!”

“I was just glad he didn’t run me over,” quipped Bab­cock. “It’s much dif­fer­ent than it was when I ar­rived three years ago in terms of en­ergy, but I think the pas­sion for the team has been the same.”


Leo Ko­marov’s goal came

Alain af­ter New York coach Vigneault

chal­lenged whether Marner was off­side on Toronto’s go-ahead strike. Marner backed over the blue­line as he caught a pass on his chest, but be­cause he con­trolled it, no call was made. The Rangers were as­sessed a mi­nor for los­ing the video gam­ble and though they killed it off, a fol­lowup slash by Kevin Hayes

oc­curred dur- ing the 5-on-4 ... ... Rangers

J.T. Miller, for­ward now with nine points in his last 11 games against Toronto, added a stiff

Ron Hain­sey shoul­der into to his rep­u­ta­tion as a Leafs neme­sis

Mika Zibane­jad ... recorded his third power-play goal in two games, while Shat­tenkirk had two spe­cial-teams points.


Leafs’ Nazem Kadri takes Rangers’ Pavel Buch­nevich into the boards last night at the Air Canada Cen­tre.

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