Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock admittedly was disappointed with his team’s latest performance, so much so that he ended the following day’s practice after just 20 minutes in a bid to conserve his players’ energy. Babcock will see if the Maple Leafs show more resolve on the ice Saturday when they conclude their three-game homestand versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
“We disappointed ourselves,” Babcock said of Thursday’s 6-3 loss to Carolina. “We had a little chat (Friday), but more importantly got to work for a short period of time. I thought they worked hard. I didn’t want anybody out there wasting any energy fooling around. I want it at game time.” James van Riemsdyk did not practice on Friday despite logging 15:18 of ice time versus the Hurricanes, leaving Babcock to admit to TSN that he wasn’t sure if the forward would face his former team. Philadelphia fell into an early three-goal deficit and dropped its second straight contest with a 5-4 setback against flu-ridden Ottawa on Thursday. The Flyers’ defense has been gashed for 11 goals in two games without blue-liner Andrew MacDonald, who is expected to be sidelined at least a month after a blocking a shot by Edmonton’s Mark Letestu last week.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN Philadelphia-Plus, CBC (Toronto)
ABOUT THE FLYERS (5-5-0): Sean Couturier has upped his offense game, as his 14-goal performance in 66 outings in 2016-17 is in jeopardy of being eclipsed in short order as he has scored a team-high seven times in just 10 contests this season. The 24-year-old nearly netted his second goal and fourth point of Thursday’s game as his shot wound up in the glove of Craig Anderson on the other side of the goal line, but the referee ruled the play a non-goal because the whistle had blown. Fellow forward Jakub Voracek netted his first goal on Thursday and has a club-best 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 10 games.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (7-3-0): Auston Matthews increased his point total to six (three goals, three assists) in his past four games with a goal and an assist on Thursday, but the 20-year-old took issue with his team’s lackluster start out of the gate. “If we start like that, we’re not going to win many games,” Matthews told reporters. “I think it’s just a consistency thing for this team right now.” Toronto has been remarkably consistent in allowing shots on goal, as its 34.2 per game average is contributing to Frederik Andersen’s less-than-stellar goals-against average (3.54) and save percentage (.893) - albeit with a strong 6-3-0 mark.
1. Philadelphia D Shayne Gostisbehere has recorded seven of his 11 assists on the power play.
2. Toronto F Patrick Marleau practiced on a line with Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner on Friday after spending the season grouped with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov.
3. Flyers injury-riddled RW Wayne Simmonds has been held off the scoresheet in three of his last four outings.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 3