Leafs players Van Riemsdyk, Gardiner agree with Andersen's tough assessment
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen celebrates in his crease after his team's 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers following NHL hockey action, in Toronto on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 19, 2018 5:09PM EST
OTTAWA -- James van Riemsdyk has no problem with his goaltender calling out teammates.
He said it's only those outside the team who are making a big deal of it.
Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen had a verbal lashing for his teammates Thursday night following Toronto's 3-2 overtime road loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia, saying: "we have to figure out who wants to commit to playing for the team."
Van Riemsdyk said he appreciated Andersen's honesty.
"That's what makes a good team when you can have those honest conversations with each other," said Van Riemsdyk. "Obviously no one's happy with how we've not been closing out games. We have more to give and we can be better and we'll continue to work on that."
The Leafs had built a 2-0 second period lead, but allowed the Flyers back in the game in the third. The tying goal was scored shorthanded by Wayne Simmonds.
Andersen said after the game that he thought there was "a lack of effort at certain points."
Jake Gardiner, who played a role in Philadelphia's tying goal, admitted he probably didn't make the best decision on the play.
He said Andersen's frustration is a feeling shared across the Leafs' locker-room.
"It's because we all want to win and we want to get better," Gardiner said. "Sometimes that's what it takes is to get upset and regroup and focus on the next one."
While coach Mike Babcock would prefer those comments be said behind closed doors, he hopes the message leaves a lasting impression.
"I think adversity is an unbelievable thing in life for springboards for opportunity," said Babcock. "It just depends how you embrace it."
Toronto has a 12-point lead on the division rival Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division but the Leafs still know they need to clean up their game in order to hold onto that playoff spot.
"We think we're not living up to what we can do," Babcock said. "To me that's the whole key about expectation. You earn the right to have expectation, you earn the right for that pressure that causes you duress when you don't do things well. That's an opportunity. It depends how we embrace it. I think this is great for our team, now we've got to respond though."
Toronto (25-17-5) faces the Ottawa Senators (15-19-9) Saturday night. The Senators posted a 4-3 victory in Toronto just over a week ago.
The Leafs could be without defenceman Morgan Rielly Saturday night as he's dealing with an upper body injury. A decision will likely be made following the morning skate.
Senators captain Erik Karlsson didn't practice Friday due to illness and is questionable for Saturday. The Senators were already planning to call up a forward from AHL Belleville as Nate Thompson re-aggravated his lower-body injury and won't play Saturday. Craig Anderson will get the start for Ottawa. Rookie defenceman Thomas Chabot was rewarded for his play of late and was told to get a place of his own in Ottawa.