TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs will be anticipating the playoffs and the Montreal Canadiens will only be able to look forward to next season when the teams meet in their final game of the regular season on Saturday night.
The Maple Leafs looked like a team that was more interested in looking ahead to the playoffs than the remainder of the regular season Thursday when they lost to the Devils 2-1 in New Jersey.
“I thought this was fair DaeSean Hamilton Jersey Broncos ,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the game Thursday. “I thought the team that worked the hardest won. I thought they were more desperate early. We weren’t good enough defensively. We didn’t compete hard enough. I thought we competed hard as the game went on.
“We had our chances but, in the end, we couldn’t overcome it. The bottom line is we’ve got one more game. This is our last chance to get ready but we’re going to have to get to another level than we were tonight for sure.”
The Canadiens, meanwhile, looked like a team that is making the most of what is left of the season when they defeated the Red Wings 4-3 in Detroit on Thursday.
“I’m not used to losing. I don’t like to lose,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “But at the same time, I have to be objective and look at the situation and there were some challenges along the way that we didn’t expect, a number of injuries, and players having to move up in the lineup in areas they weren’t quite ready for.”
The Maple Leafs (48-26-7) do have something to play for Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. The loss to the Devils kept them at 103 points, which equals a franchise best for a season. So, they still have a chance to set a franchise record for total points in a season.
“Two different situations but we’re all competitive people and we’re all very prideful Saquon Barkley Jersey Elite ,” Toronto center Nazem Kadri said. “That’s what got us here in the first place, so I don’t think we take any games off. Obviously, we didn’t start (Thursday) the way we wanted to, but I felt that we made a push.”
Goaltender Frederik Andersen will be trying for a club record 38th win in a season by a Toronto netminder on Saturday.
Still, the playoffs will be on the minds of the Maple Leafs.
“You’re focusing on these games to get ready for the playoffs,” said Toronto center William Nylander, who scored the goal Thursday. “So, whatever we’re doing now is trying to get prepared for the playoffs.”
Nylander became the sixth Maple Leafs player to reach 20 goals this season.
The Canadiens (29-39-13) have been dealing with injuries all season, including season-ending ones to their top defenseman Shea Weber (foot surgery) and their captain Max Pacioretty (knee).
“It’s unbelievable the number of injuries and the types of injuries,” Julien said. “When we started the season, we felt we had enough veterans and enough experience to bring in some young guys and still battle through and get ourselves in the playoffs. But there’s a lot of things that have happened and concussions are one of those issues that we’ve had more than we’d like.”
The Canadiens have had five players with concussions listed on the injury report this season.
Stifled by the salary cap Youth Dorian O'Daniel Jersey , the Atlanta Falcons won’t be offering Julio Jones a more lucrative contract.
Not this year, at least.
Now the question is: Will the star receiver show up for training camp?
The Falcons informed Jones several weeks ago that they would not renegotiate his current $71.5 million package, which still has three years remaining and included $47 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the talks have not been made public.
The team’s decision, which was first reported by The Athletic, does not preclude talks after the season on a deal more in line with Jones’ status as one of the NFL’s top receivers. But the Falcons do not believe they have enough financial leeway under the cap to renegotiate the contract in 2018.
The team hasn’t been told if Jones will be at training camp. Players are required to report next Thursday, with the first practice the following day.
Atlanta already agreed to a five-year, $150 million extension with quarterback Matt Ryan, the most lucrative deal in NFL history. The team is also focused on working out new contracts for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, offensive guard Jake Matthews and safety Ricardo Allen.
A flurry of new contracts during the offseason dropped Jones, who makes an average salary of $14.25 million Austin Corbett Browns Jersey , out of the top half-dozen on the list of the league’s highest-paid receivers. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Cleveland’s Jarvis Landry and Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins are among those now making more per year than Jones, a two-time All-Pro who caught 88 passes for 1,444 yards last season.
In 2015, Jones turned in one of the greatest seasons by a receiver with 136 receptions for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a five-time Pro Bowler.
In an apparent sign of his unhappiness, Jones skipped organized team workouts at the team’s training facility this summer, as well as a mandatory minicamp. But he apparently took part in Ryan’s private passing camp in California along with about a dozen of his teammates this month.
Jones has gone silent on social media and hasn’t talked with the Atlanta media in months. In one of his rare media appearances, he told TMZ that he has a good relationship with the franchise that pulled off a huge trade with Cleveland to make him a first-round pick in 2011.
”Everyone wants a story right now. There’s no story to be told,” Jones insisted. ”I’m just working on getting myself better. I’m just working on myself right now. That’s all that is. There’s no bad blood between me and the team or anything like that.”
Jones remains in the good graces of coach Dan Quinn, who didn’t seem at all upset when Jones skipped the minicamp .
”Sometimes football and business intersect Luke Falk Jersey Elite ,” Quinn said. ”That’s OK and that happens a lot.”
Quinn has talked constantly of ”brotherhood” and making sure players do everything as a team. For instance, the players stood together as a team on the sideline during the national anthem for all games after two players kneeled in protest early in the 2017 season.
Quinn doesn’t think Jones’ absence has affected the Falcons’ unity.
”Do we want everybody here all the time? Hell yeah, like all the time,” the coach said. ”What I’d say is if you ask to a man, the guy is a hell of a teammate, and the time he spends here, the way he mentors people, how hard he plays, there is plenty of brotherhood in Julio.”