Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 3-2 win over the Rangers in New York on Saturday night.
On the successful challenge on the would’ve-been tying 3-3 goal by Michael Grabner:
Obviously, the guys in the room — [Andrew Brewer] and [Jordan Bean] — got that looked after. Real good job by those guys. An important — obviously — two points for our team. I thought we did a lot of good things. Lundqvist was unbelievable. We could’ve had a bunch in the third, but it was a good win for our team. Three days off here should be fun for the guys.
On the team playing a better road game than the prior three or four:
The lineup is better, too. We’re deeper. I think, when you get Matty back, Hyman is what he was and Willy is a much better winger than he is a center at this point in his career. You get him back and we’re a much deeper team. I think, obviously, that makes a big difference. Plus, we had a chance to freshen up.
On the team’s 5-on-3 penalty kill in the first period:
I thought the PK was really good. Leo and those guys did an unbelievable job. Timely saves as well. We had the one big save on it. But we did a good job. Our powerplay, we didn’t do as good of a job on it as we’d like to. We should’ve zipped that around a little better. Often, the 5-on-3 kills itself because the guys have too much time and it ends up nothing happens.
On Auston Matthews’ performance (1g,1a) in his return to the lineup:
I thought he was good. Some of the things aren’t like normal, but their line dominated. They were heavy in the offensive zone. They made good plays. They scored two goals. They were a good line for us.
On William Nylander’s play on the boards prior to the Matthews goal:
I really like it. The challenge for him is not the skill stuff in open ice. It’s in the tight quarters. He made a real good play in a real good battle. Hyman just followed up and made a really nice pass. Obviously, that’s a good line for us. Sometimes Brownie plays there, but that’s a good line for us and an important line for us.
On whether there is a different thought process with the new rules about challenging offsides:
I never thought much about it. I mean, the guy’s foot was offside. I just looked down and it was obvious. It wasn’t a big challenge. Beaner called out for us or told Brew to call us and tell us it was offside. So we just did it.
On the team’s situation at the holiday break:
I think it’s been good. We’re a good hockey club that is getting better. We’ve still got lots of work to do. We look like a young team a lot when we start turning the puck over and doing silly things. We haven’t been as consistent as we’d like. But I think we’ve got a good hockey club and a club that’s going in the right direction, so that’s positive.
On the schedule lightening up with more home games in the New Year:
We just get ready for these games coming up. Obviously, we’ve got a good run on the road here with lots of games. You’d like the home and the road games to be balanced and spread out, but that’s just not the way it is. We’re going to have to do a good job at home.