Mike Babcock’s post-game comments after his team’s 5-4 loss to Washington in Game 4.
As you’ve had a chance to talk and look at it, were the mistakes tonight correctable as you go back to work tomorrow and move toward Game 5 in Washington?
Babcock: For sure. We weren’t very good. We weren’t ready to play. They were more competitive than us at the start. In the faceoff circle, we never had the puck at the start. They dominated us totally. We weren’t very good. In some ways, it’s nice that we were able to score goals and get ourselves back in the game, but we didn’t play nearly as good as we had to or needed to. We talked a lot about how the game was going to be today, but it didn’t look like any of that sunk in. We weren’t prepared.
You see it as a lack of execution as opposed to something Washington might’ve adjusted?
Babcock: We weren’t good enough. We didn’t compete hard enough. They won all the battles and all the races. I thought they were quicker today. I thought we looked slow and they looked fast. To me, that is just real simple. I thought they executed better than us and were on top of us instead of us executing better and getting on top of them. I thought they got off to a good start, obviously. We lost the faceoff and they scored. That was Oshie. We give up a power play and have four clears and could’ve got it out. We didn’t get it out. They shoot it in our net. We go down 2-0. I think you can come back once in a while when you get behind like we did the other night, but I don’t think you can spot the other team two goals all the time, especially now that they’re energized and winning all the battles. We weren’t very good.
Do you think Mitch Marner is getting a bit of a lesson in these playoffs as to how difficult this time of the year really is?
Babcock: I think everybody is getting a lesson on this team. We have a lot of veteran guys who just played their eighth playoff game. We’re all getting lessons. Each and every year, this is a crucial game here today. You can make it a best-of-three or you can be in the driver’s seat. What you learn over time by being in these is you don’t ever want to let the other team get any momentum. We haven’t done that, so now we’ve got to dig in and find a way. I think everyone’s finding out there is not a lot of space and not a lot of room. To be a good player in the league, you’ve got to be ultra-competitive and do it every night.
Morgan was talking to the officials after he got hit in the face with a skate blade and hit from behind before. Was there a lesson for some of the guys that a lot of things aren’t going to get called some games?
Babcock: The way I look at this is — when you compete at a real high level, lots of things go your way. When you don’t, they don’t go your way. Hockey is a fair game. 99% of the time, the team that competes the hardest wins. I thought today’s game was fair.
Does it feel like a lost opportunity tonight?
Babcock: For sure. It is a lost opportunity. It doesn’t feel like it. It is. I think Game 1 in their building… I just felt that was a confidence builder for our team. You’re playing a team that is the best team in hockey and here you are. I thought today was the first time that maybe we weren’t scared enough of them, and it looked like it. Their competitiveness wasn’t good enough.