Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
On the result and how the team played:
I thought we did a good job right until we turned the puck over and they got one. And then I thought they upped the ante. They won, when you look at the 50-50 battles in tonight’s game, in the faceoff circle, they dominated us. It’s a good team competing at a high level. As the game went on, we got quicker and quicker and we watched them more and more, and [Frederik Andersen] had to be good. Good for Freddy and good for us. We got the points. It just goes to show we’ve got a ways to go.
On the lift the team got from Kasperi Kapanen’s 2-0 shorthanded goal:
Obviously, we’re set up pretty good at that point. I didn’t like that we came through and had a big kill and then we turned the puck over and it was in our net. To me, that is just managing the game and keeping it under control. We didn’t need to put any fuel on the fire. We know they’re a good team. And then, I thought, when we got cautious, their D really started to skate. They already were winning the faceoffs, and then they were skating by us, too. That made it important that Freddy was good.
On whether it was his suggestion that Kasperi Kapanen become a penalty killer:
I just said, “That’s the way you’re going to play in the National Hockey League.” We’ve told [Andreas Borgman] the same thing. You’re not playing on the power play. You better figure out how to make yourself important. Kappy can really skate, and he can really shoot the puck. He just doesn’t. But he can really shoot the puck. He’ll figure that out over time, but he’s competitive. I thought him and Leo were some of our best wingers tonight.
On what the Predators did well against the Auston Matthews line and whether there is a lesson for that line to take from tonight:
Wouldn’t let them have the puck. Sure, there are lots of [lessons]. When you go through and you play the good teams and these good players, you get tired of these lessons. You like to have the puck more. You’ve got to decide. In the end, the game is so simple. You’ve got to decide you’re going to dig in hard enough to have it — period. No different than two kids playing in the living room fighting over a ball. Usually one decides they’re going to have it.
On the differences in Kapanen’s game during his most recent stint with the big club:
Well, he used to be a skinny little kid. Now he’s got some meat on his bones and he’s worked hard at it. And then, obviously, it’s experience, and experience makes you compete a little harder on a nightly basis because you don’t want to go back anymore. That’s the great thing about earning your way and being in the minors and riding the bus and learning what it’s like — it makes you not want to go back there. I think that helps out. But I also think getting here when you’re ready and not before you’re ready helps you stay and helps you keep your confidence.
On whether he looks like a player who is going to stick:
He looks like a good player to me. He’s come here and we win. He’s made a difference — flat out made a difference. We can come at you faster with more people. He’s penalty killing every night and doing a good job for us. I think he’s important.