What does Mike Babcock think of the chemistry between Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly so far?
"Well, that’s a good question," the Maple Leafs coach said. "We'll just keep watching, how's that? There's lots of parts to that. Is Mo's game as good as it can be? So, that’s a big part, for me, as well. So, we’ll just see over time. I said right from the get-go there will probably be some difference in pairs."
Babcock was up front about his reservations as soon as Muzzin joined the Leafs via a trade with Los Angeles. In an ideal world, the coach would like to keep the guy who's making more plays with the puck on his strong side, but Rielly, a lefty like Muzzin, has shifted to the right to ease the transition period for the ex-King.
Toronto's top six currently features five lefties. So, is the plan to eventually play Muzzin on the right?
"I don't know what I'll do," Babcock said. "Maybe a different pair. We'll just see what happens, you know what I mean? We've got some options now. Obviously, we feel our defence is way better than it was (with) more depth. We can play more players with more players. We'll see over time."
Rielly, who has already set a career high with 53 points in 53 games, has a goal and two assists in the four games since joining forces with Muzzin.
"We're working on it," Rielly said of the new partnership. "There's always room to get better and things we can improve on and we’re aware of that and we’re doing what we can to improve."
Rielly and Muzzin were on the ice for Ottawa's two goals in the third period on Wednesday, marking the first time they've been on for even-strength goals against since being united. The pair is driving possession with 56.6% CorsiFor in nearly 53 minutes together, per NaturalStatTrick.com.