Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 7-4 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.
On his level of disappointment about letting the game slip in the third period:
I’m disappointed because I thought we were set up perfect going into the third. I thought we really played well in the last 10 minutes of the second. We used all of our people. We were fresh. I thought we looked like we were the fresher team and we were in the driver’s seat.
At 4 on-4 there, we actually won the draw, and they ended up winning the 50-50. It gets out to the point and finds a way through. I haven’t seen the replay, so I don’t know if it was tipped or not. It ended up in the net. We were still in a good spot there. The next one hurt us.
We didn’t respond. It was like devastation instead of keep playing and executing in the third period.
If you’re me, looking at the game, you’re going in to the third on the road, you’re set up pretty good and you’re pretty happy with what’s happened. And then in the third period, obviously, once they scored, they came at us and we didn’t execute at that point.
On his message to the players and fans after the loss:
No message today at all. They don’t want to hear me talk. You can just imagine. No message to the fans, either. We’ll have a gathering in a day here. Not tomorrow, but probably the next day. At that time, we’ll do all of our talking.
On whether the team was prepared and it just came down to the players’ inability to close it out in the third:
You’re all part of it when it goes good and you’re all part of it when it doesn’t go good. The bottom line is, you own it all as the head coach and you own it all as the players. That’s just the way the game is. The best way to fix things is to take total responsibility yourself.
Any way you look at it, we came in the third period in a great spot. If you go through the last 10 minutes of the second, we played really well. We controlled it. We were in good spots. There was no reason for us not to continue through the third. In the end, though, they pushed and they shot the puck and it went in the net.
You have to give them credit for that. Here you are and for us it’s all right there. There’s one period to go. I don’t think anybody in Toronto or anybody on our team would’ve complained about me telling you that we were right here. Even when we got down one in the third, there were lots of minutes. We were still in a good position. Once they got the next one, we weren’t. Mentally, we weren’t at all.
On whether the players will eventually be able to look back on the growth this season and over the seven-game series:
This is what I’ll say to you: They might be able to look back in a couple of days. Right now, and I’m cognizant of this when I’m talking to you now. Right now, you can’t say anything. You’re emotional. Keep your mouth shut for a day or two, and then look at the whole picture and be able to comment on that. At the start of the series and you’d have told me it’d be like this and we’d be right here going into the third period, I’d have taken that all day long.
On the way Jake Gardiner played the 5-4 goal and whether they needed a stop:
I already kind of answered your questions there. I’m not really commenting on anything. I didn’t really go in like I normally do and go through the replays or anything like that. We’re done. We’ll have lots of time to look at those goals and get that figured out. The bottom line is, we went out for the third period and they scored and we didn’t. Once they scored, they tilted the rink, and we… I don’t even know how many looks we had if we had any.
On what Matthews takes away after just two points in seven games in the series:
I think that’s a good question for him in a couple of days. The bottom line is, the league is a real good league. When you’re a real good player, you play against the best players who check you the hardest. They’ve got the scouting report on you. They work hard. That’s just the way it is. Part of your growth process is learning to fight through that.
If I’m not mistaken, Pavel [Datsyuk] was one of the best players I’ve ever coached — two way guy — and he went four years without a playoff goal. I could be wrong. But it’s hard. These other teams are competing. They want to win, too. I don’t think Bergeron and Marchand and Chara and these guys… they’re dialed in to play against you. You’ve got to find a way to get to the next level. Some of these hard knocks are a growth opportunity for you in life. You’ve got to embrace it. You’ve got to dig in and you’ve got to grow your craft in the off-season.