Mike Babcock met with the media after Thursday’s practice and discussed Morgan Rielly’s lack of powerplay time, the plan for Frank Corrado, the recent rise in shots against, Auston Matthews’ goal slump, and more.

On his theory for why the lights went out at practice on Wednesday:

Mike Babcock: I came up with it yesterday because I couldn’t understand why the lights went out. [Roman Polak’s] buddy at Ontario Hydro needed a new BBQ, so it cost him a thousand bucks, so what he did is he phoned him in the morning and said, “I know Babs is going to be a little crazy today.” Being the veteran player he is, he said, “so when it gets to be around 40-43 minutes, the lights have got to go out.” He had no idea we were going to stop and start after instead. Good veteran move by Polie. What’s going on today boys?

You mentioned the other day that you like the role that Morgan Rielly is in. He could play the powerplay and light it up, but…

Babcock: I never said light it up. That’s what you just said.

Okay, that’s I said. I put words in your mouth. I’m sorry.

Babcock: I just watched that US election, and you know how the media kind of sometimes doesn’t get it right? We’ve got to get it right every day. So what did I say?


Is it a blessing to have a guy as young as that have as many games experience as he’s got?

Babcock: I think so. But I also think that you’ve got to remember every once and a while that he’s not 28. You’ve got to keep it in perspective sometimes. He knows it. What I like about Rielly is he comes every day with a great attitude. He wants to be better. He wants to be the best he can possibly be. He brings that workmanlike attitude with a relaxed disposition and has a lot of fun.

Do you like the progress he’s made in that role that you put him in then, Mike?

Babcock: For sure. I think he’s done a real good job. Obviously, Zaitsev coming in here… we didn’t expect Zaitsev to be where he is right now. We knew he was a good player and was going to have good traction. We think the two of them – they’re both young guys – with experience will turn into a real good pair for us.

Obviously, you juggled the lines a bit last game to get a bit of a spark. The lines are back to the way they were before the game. How do you balance short-term changes versus long-term changes?

Babcock: I guess I would say if I liked anything I did in the game, then we might’ve done it again. But when we were like we were, I didn’t like it very much. The other thing is the combinations have stayed together longer, probably, this year than they ever have before just because I think guys are suited for certain spots better. We don’t have enough other pieces to interchange.

Do you ever give a thought to giving Frankie Corrado a shot?

Babcock: Yeah, I did for sure. But we just went 3-1 in our last four, right?

Last year, around this time, you said you had a plan for Frankie. Do you have a plan for him this year?

Babcock: You can’t tell by looking at it, but last year we didn’t have Carrick and we didn’t have Zaitsev. That’s the problem with life. The truth today isn’t the truth tomorrow. If you’re working in your job and someone else comes in and is a little smoother at it, guess what happens to you? It’s the same thing here. But what’s Frankie done is he’s done a real good job with being a real good pro. He’s gotten bigger and stronger. Worked real hard this summer. When he gets his opportunity, he’s got to seize it.

Will Hunwick get in this weekend?

Babcock: We think he’s just about ready to be cleared. We’ll see how he does tomorrow morning again.

Are the goalies sorted for the next two games?

Babcock: Yeah.

Do you know who is starting on Friday? Would you like to share?

Babcock: [Andersen] is starting.

What does it mean to you to see a guy like Pat Quinn going into the Hall this year?

Babcock: Well, Pat is a gentleman and a great, great man. Obviously, I remember him well, both with the Olympics and talking, but mostly as the Leafs coach, to be honest with you. Even though he coached a number of times. In Vancouver, I thought very highly of him, obviously, and in Philly there, too. I always remember him as the Leafs coach and the Olympic coach. He cared about people and was a great man, a smart man. He had that big presence about him, but he was a kind, kind, kind person. It’s great for him.

Have you detected any frustration from Auston Matthews or William Nylander with their production not meeting their scoring chances?

Babcock: Yeah. We talk about that stuff. I don’t know if it’s frustration at all. They are playing in the National Hockey League. I think, in Matthews’ situation, we could put him on the wing with a really good player and it’d be way easier, but that’s not what we want to do with him. That’s not what he wants to do. It’s way harder to be a dominant centerman in the league at 19 than it is a winger, for sure. That’s a little different than Willy’s situation. Willy’s situation, I look at it and I think they have 11 or 10 points or something like that. I think they’re doing pretty good, but there’s going to be ebbs and flows in the league. You just want your ups to be a lot longer than your downs. You want your downs to be short. But I didn’t think anyone was any good last game. But the game before I thought they had as many chances as they’ve ever had.

Three of the past four games – 40+ shots against.

Babcock: Too many. We’ve got to play better without the puck. We’ve got to be better in the faceoff circle, play better without the puck. I really thought last game, in particular, there was no reason for us to give up what we did. It wasn’t that type of game. We didn’t have to do that. We got away from what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s nice when your goalie is able to steal you a game. We appreciate the fact, but we don’t want to play like that. As much as we’ve generated lots of o-zone opportunity and time and shots ourselves – and the numbers verify that – we’re giving up too much. I think all you’ve got to do is look at goals against and that’s very obvious, too. That’s why we work on it every single day. We’ll continue to work on it.

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