Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, the Leafs’ 11th win in their last 13 games.
On the number of shots given up:
I also think you give up shots because you’re ahead at the end. To be honest with you, I thought it was an even game. I thought their team played hard. I thought their goalie was good. I thought our goalie was good. I thought we both had some good opportunities. I mean, their good guys are good players on that team, both on the backend, in net, and up front. I thought it was a good game.
On whether what we’re seeing from Frederik Andersen this season is just a natural progression for him:
I think part is his fitness. He did a real good job this summer, so he’s just building off of confidence. I think last year — if I’m not mistaken — is the first year he’s really been the starter. You go through that and you get comfortable with your teammates and you just go from there. And I think our team plays pretty well in front of him.
On JVR’s ability to find open ice and score consistently, and his hot streak over the last few weeks:
I thought today was one of his better games for sure. James has an ability to score. Is that four of the [last] five game-winners, if you count the shootout? I think it is. Like, it’s ridiculous. The other thing about him is I thought, in our last game, he back-checked, he competed, he won some loose puck battles. We always encourage him to just do more. We think he can do more. He’s got a big body. He’s got a skill set. And then just get to the net.
Last game, he scored there just by getting to the net. A guy should’ve boxed him out and didn’t, and he got to the net and it hit him in the chest, or whatever, in front. Today he gets a big goal — one Luongo would want back; he made tonnes of good saves, but [that was] one he would want back. That’s what James seems to do. Other guys, as you see, don’t.
On the world-class speed Kasperi Kapanen showed splitting through the middle for a scoring chance:
For sure. He can obviously really skate. Him and Dermott are trying to figure it out — trying to figure out when to make a play, when to take care of the puck, when you can’t lose your positioning. It’s not going to help them playing in the American league anymore. They’re going to learn that when they’re on the wrong side of things. But I thought his speed showed. Dermy makes lots of good plays but then sometimes it’s, “What happened there?” That’s part of being a kid.
On whether keeping JVR despite his contract status is a no-brainer at this point:
I don’t think anything is an easy decision. We’ve talked about this: You always have this plan, but your plan can always change. It depends on what people want. There are lots of times where you are going through and not planning on doing anything, and you end up doing something. We don’t really know right now what’s available and what we could pursue, either. The way I look at it is, instead of worrying about that stuff, we’ll just keep playing good and give ourselves the best opportunity. And then whatever is best for our team Lou will do.
On whether it is nice to have 25-goal guy tucked on the third line playing fairly limited minutes:
Yeah, but I think what we try to do… Even tonight, their big guys played more than our big guys. We’re trying to have a four-line team. That’s what we’re trying to do. Come crunch time, we might have to do something a little different, but right now, I think it is important. He plays on the power play. He is playing with Bozie. They’re playing regular. We are trying to play our fourth line. We could play them more and not play the fourth line, but I think our fourth line is good.