The Detroit Red Wings play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs to open the 2015/16 NHL season on Friday but instead of the players, it’s the man on the bench for the road squad that is making all the headlines. Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, who departed Detroit in the offseason to sign a 8-year, $50 million with Toronto, has since become the highest-paid bench boss in the league.
- The Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings between the two clubs.
- Howard will start Friday, but Mrazek will start Saturday against Carolina.
- Toronto will have the same lineup as Thursday against the Canadiens.
Babcock will have his work cut out for him in the Big Smoke as the Leafs are coming off a forgettable season that saw the club finish second-last in the Eastern Conference at 30-44-8 SU. But unlike seasons past, the Buds decided to commit to a full rebuild in the offseason and have begun the long approach to building a contender from the ground up.
The ever-steady Detroit Red Wings extended their consecutive playoff streak to 22 years last season, extending the North American record in the process. Starting netminder Jimmy Howard stumbled down the home stretch last year and nearly lost his job to backup Petr Mrazek, but is expected to be between the pipes Friday evening. Jonathan Bernier is slated to counter for the Leafs.