Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 3-1 win to force a Game 7 on an emotional night at the Air Canada Centre.
On playing in the aftermath of the tragedy at Yonge and Finch:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the people who lost their lives today and all of the people that are injured. Senseless deaths, to say the least. It changes the new normal in a family’s life forever, whether it be no mom or dad or brother or sister, or whatever it may be. Obviously, we are fortunate to live in such a fantastic city with great first responders and the work they’ve done. But it’s so important that we rally around people, help out, and do everything we can. We’ve got a fantastic city. We can’t let this get in the way of what we’ve got going. Tragic, to say the least.
You just think — 10 homes tonight, probably 26 for the injured people, however bad they’re injured. Life has changed forever in a second. Needless loss.
On whether the team talked about it as a group before the game:
We didn’t talk about it in a big group. We spent the whole time talking about it. That was all anyone was talking about right from the get go. The bottom line is it was our job to do what we could to do our job here tonight. I was just thinking: I live in Yorkville. I walk around all the time. You’re just out there enjoying a beautiful day in Toronto and senseless activity like that… I don’t know anything about it and I probably shouldn’t talk, but mental health is unbelievable in how important it is. It’s just scary.
On persevering through going down 1-0, the disallowed goal, the penalty kills:
Yeah, good jam. We’ve been talking all along — we’re playing a great team in Boston. This series is fun. It is high-end. There is no room. They’ve got high-end players. But we think we’re going to win. We thought that all along. We started poorly and we’ve crawled our way back, and now we have the opportunity of a life time.
That’s what we talked about tonight: This is fun. This is where you want to be. Going into the third period, this is fun. This is where you want to be. You want these moments in life. You don’t remember everything in your life, but you remember moments. You want to create those moments; you want to create memories. It’s a good opportunity for us to create memories with a good group of guys. We like each other a lot. We play hard for one another. We had a good regular season. We want to have a good playoff. Now we’ve got to go to Boston, get the clam chowder like we talked about, and dig in and win a game.
On how the team has managed to claw back in the series:
I think, when we were down 2-0, we weren’t very happy with ourselves. We feel we’re a better hockey team than that. In Game 2, we thought we played better than the score indicated, especially at the start. The puck just kept going in our net. If you look at last game, we got off to a great start and then still found a way to get in our own way. I liked our third period tonight. But I think when you have young people, and lots of them…
I mean, Dermy, Kappy, Johnny haven’t even hardly played in the league, and they’re out there in big moments. I think it’s great for our team and the development of our team. We’ve just got to keep grinding. We’ve got a good day tomorrow and we get to enjoy this tonight and get ready for… The first ten minutes in Boston should be a ton of fun. What an opportunity. That’s how we should go about it — what an opportunity it is for all of us. As a player, you want to be known as someone who gets it done when it matters. All of that means is doing your simple part for the group to have success.
On Tomas Plekanec stepping up in a big role the last three games:
He’s done good. I was going to go back to Naz there, but he’s been doing a good job. Every time you come back, your second game is not quite as good. Now, we’ve got to get Naz the opportunity to be as dominant as he can be, too. I thought Plek did a real good job and Marleau and Marner are really skating. With the D on the back, I thought Rielly was one of the.. On the back, it was hard to make plays tonight, and I thought Rielly did a lot of it. And, obviously, Hainsey does what he does.
On what he will impart on his team preparing for Game 7:
Scoring first in Game 7 is a huge deal, I can tell you that. In saying all of that — enjoying it. Living in the present and enjoying the moment. You’re going to be ready to go. Don’t spend all day tomorrow and the next day getting ready and all wound up. Just relax and get ready for one shift. That’s all you’ve got to do. Be ready for one shift. And then you’ve got time while you’re on the bench to get ready for the next one. You’ll be fine. It should be good. We look for forward to it. These are the growing moments in your life as a player and you want to take advantage of it.
On Frederik Andersen stepping up huge the last two games:
What I would say to you is that it didn’t go well for him early. I don’t know what it’s like. I’ve never been a goalie. It’s got to be tough being a goalie, I would think. It’s way more fun when you’re in there and keep getting hit. He’s been in there all year and he trusts himself. That doesn’t mean, as a professional athlete, at times, your confidence doesn’t waver a little bit. He’s dug himself out of what he was in and he’s been a key part for us all year long. No reason he won’t continue to be.
On the progression in Marner’s game from last playoffs to this year:
He’s way stronger. He knows how to play. Mitch was fortunate, before he got here, he was with the Hunters in London and he did a ton of winning. He’s learned how to win. He’s learned how to be F3. He’s learned how to track the puck. He’s learned how to compete. He has all of those things, plus his skill set. What he’s done at playoff time is put his work ahead of his skill and he’s having success.