Mike Babcock’s post-game comments after the Leafs’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
Do you view that game as a missed opportunity or as a confidence builder?
Babcock: I thought a confidence builder for sure. Obviously, I liked our game. I didn’t like that we wouldn’t shoot the puck. We had so many opportunities to shoot and we wanted to pass it in the net instead of shooting it in the net. I thought Wilson did a good job of just doing that; just turned and threw it on the net. That’s playoff hockey. Things bounce to somebody and it goes in, or you get a second chance. I didn’t think we did a good job of that, but I liked a lot of things about our game. Obviously, I didn’t like being down on a 5-on-3, but other than that, I didn’t mind our game.
A quick word on what you thought about Frederik Andersen’s performance tonight?
Babcock: I thought Freddy was really good, and then he’d probably like to have that [game-winner] back. He gave us an opportunity, so I don’t think you can argue with that.
Describe your three pairings tonight and how hard they worked for you.
Babcock: I thought Rielly might’ve had his best game this year. I thought he was really solid for us. Hunwick was solid. Carrick and Marty gave us good minutes. Marty hadn’t played in a long time and I thought he did a good job for us.
How do you feel the team did in terms of containing Backstrom, Ovechkin – that top line for Washington?
Babcock: Let me look here. Looks alright. Looks like Williams had a good night though, you know what I mean? They got one on the broken play on the 5 on 3. We had the penalty killed, obviously, and Brown lifted Polak’s stick or whatever. We made a mistake on the kill to get shorthanded, though, so we’ll fix that. I thought that was fine. I thought Boyle gave us good faceoff opportunity. I thought that was important as well. I thought [Matt Martin] was physical. Lots of good things.
How do you think your team survived the whole atmosphere aspect?
Babcock: I thought they probably thought it was fun. I kept trying to tell them, we’ve got good players and we’re allowed to play at a high level. We’ve got some really good players. Play. Don’t watch them, play. I think if you’re Matty or you’re Mitch or you’re Willy or you’re Brownie, if you’re those guys, let’s play. You don’t have to watch them. You can play good.
Obviously, a lot of lessons tonight, but do you think your young guys got a sense of how slim the margin of error is this time of year?
Babcock: Yeah, I don’t think they had to learn that though. I don’t think that’s a big thing. I think what they found out tonight is you can skate with them. You can be physical. Their D give the puck back to you when you’re physical, just like if you’re physical with us. I just think it’s important to get a taste and understand what the game is like and what it feels like. Now it’s important that we leave here 1-1.
Do you think they surprised them in the first period by taking the style to them? It seemed like a more wide-open first period than you tend to see in the playoffs.
Babcock: I don’t think so. I just think it’s the playoffs. Our big thing is we’ve got to get a game here because we’ve got to keep it tight so they stay tight. They get too loose and it’ll make it too easy for them.