Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s wild 8-5 win over the New York Rangers in the team’s 2017-18 home opener.
How do you look at a game like that? Do you not sweat the details and know you got two points, four in two games, and move ahead and working on some of the things [you didn’t like]?
Babcock: I mean, a big win at home in the opener. The opener is always a little crazy. You don’t know what’s going to happen, for sure. Obviously, we started like a house on fire. We were really going and playing well. You saw this kind of thing last year at times where we just kind of lose our way. We did that, but we had enough stability and talent to stick with it and we ended up getting the win. Big win for our team, and it’ll be feel good tomorrow. We’ll fix the things we need to fix.
What do you say to them and what do they say to each other when 5-1 becomes 5-5?
Babcock: I just went in and told them what we needed to do to win the game. I didn’t talk a whole lot about 5-5 or anything like that. There was a period coming up and we couldn’t do anything about the period that just finished. We just talked about the plan to win the game.
There were times last year where this kind of situation leads to a different result. A year later, do you see a different kind of resolve in the group?
Babcock: I thought we had a much better third. The first period, technically or structurally, we played good. We really worked and we had the puck. In the second period, I don’t know what we were doing. We got away from our game. That’s the way sports should be. When you don’t do things right, you shouldn’t have success, and we didn’t. There are lots of things that we can get better at. The way I look at it is we’ve played two home openers now and found a way to survive in both of them and win the games.
Were you confident that goal would survive the challenge?
Babcock: When we looked at it, Mitch’s foot was on the line still when the puck went in. It wasn’t about control or not control. It was that the puck advanced before Mitch did. I was pretty sure it was a good goal.
When a period like the second period is happening, are you vocal on the bench, or quieter?
Babcock: You should ask them. I don’t know what I said. It was happening. We talked about why it was happening. Got through the period and we weren’t down. How’s that?
All of these guys know they can’t play run and gun hockey. You tell them and they tell us. But when a team can score like this, does it become…
Babcock: It’s kind of fun, eh? But it’s dumb. So you have to decide. We had lots of guys take their turn at turning it over and being silly and doing crazy things. In saying all of that, we also had a lot of guys play real hard at times and do things right. It’s not like we don’t know how. It’s no different than your job. You’ve got to go there every day. You’ve got to bring energy. You’ve got to grind. You’ve got to do it right. Some days, your stories aren’t as good as others.
How do you cut down on the silliness?
Babcock: You talk about it. I think we’ve got a good process going. I like our group. I like the people. I like the commitment to doing good things. Just because it doesn’t go the way you want it to sometimes doesn’t mean they’re not trying to do good things. I think we’ll get good lessons out of this game and get ready for a good Chicago team.
The work that Zach Hyman did on the forecheck before his goal – is that what you love about Zach Hyman?
Babcock: Obviously. I also think he has a lot more skill than you people give him credit for. Part of his skill set is his ability to get the puck back. His net front, his passes from below the goal line – those things are excellent. I still think that, as he becomes a confident NHL player, he’s going to score more. I mean, the move he made before he scored was unbelievable. And then to get it back and do it again, I think was great. That’s great for him. He lives in this town and his family lives in this town. Whether he reads it or not, someone is reading it and telling him about it. After a while, maybe that bangs on you if you’re not strong. I just tell him he’s a good player and to play good.
Only small changes to the team from last year, but it being early in the season, is it a work in progress trying to find the right formula for the guys you trust when things start to get a little hairy?
Babcock: Yeah, I don’t know. I just kept putting them all out there. I thought Moore’s line was really good tonight. I thought Fehr’s line was really good in Winnipeg. That part was good. I trust all of the guys. Naz matched up against Zibanejad tonight. I thought they did a real good job. I think that group had three goals and I thought they were physical, too. We’ve got lots of guys. We trust them all. That’s why we play them.
What were your thoughts on Rosen’s debut?
Babcock: I thought good. I thought [Carrick] had a better night the first night, so that affects your partner as well. We’ll just let this play out and we’ll figure it out.