Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night — the team’s 48th win, tying the franchise record for points in a season (103).
On Andreas Johnsson’s performance after getting back into the lineup:
I thought he was good. He works real hard and he’s ultra-competitive. He shows up every day with a great attitude and he’s got energy in him. You can’t say enough about that. People like that make the people around them better. He’s one of those guys the guys from the Marlies said that you don’t have you negotiate with every day. He just brings it every day. That’s a real positive thing. I thought he was good on the penalty kill. I thought he was good on the power play. I thought he played hard.
On Jake Gardiner hitting the 50-point mark for the first time in his career:
He’s a good player. Tonight’s game was a little looser than I’d like it; in saying all of that, those guys — Mo and him — really get the puck going for us from the back. Jake is one of those guys who can just make plays. Real good hockey sense, knows where the puck is going next, and is a way better defender than people think, as well. He’s a good hockey player.
On the defense pairings with Travis Dermott out:
We wanted to play Hainsey and Zaitsev together anyway today. That’s why we [put them together] — for no other reason than that. We wanted to see how that looks if we need to do that. The rest of the pairs… I mean, we’re going to get Dermy back. He’s going to skate tomorrow. And then we’ll get back to doing what we normally do. But we wanted to check it out and see how it worked.
On the Matthews and Nylander power play unit finding its rhythm:
Obviously, Bozak’s power play has been really good for us all year. Really dynamic, to say the least. The other unit didn’t have as much puck speed and was frustrated and getting in their own way. Now the puck speed is way up and they seem to have it going and have got confidence. It’s good for us, obviously. You want to be real dangerous on the power play. That’s important.
Now, our penalty kill — since we took all of these guys out — hasn’t been as good. We have to get that back to where it was.
On how important it is to be playing well in the final games entering the playoffs:
That’s a great question. I’m not 100% sure of the answer, but I do know that it is way better to go in playing well so that you don’t have to answer any questions about not playing well. How’s that?