Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 16-8-0 on the season.
On a convincing win:
I thought we played quick. Real good for [Andreas Johnsson]. Any time you’ve been a real good player in the American Hockey League and then you’ve come to the National League and you’re just trying to find your way, I think you’ve got to earn confidence. That would really help him here tonight. That was positive. A few of the guys who haven’t scored got to score. I think that was a good thing.
On the excitement level about getting William Nylander and Auston Matthews back in the lineup:
I hadn’t thought about that part today. It’s my assumption we are getting both back. Obviously, we will be a better hockey club when we have them both. They give you whole other line and give you much more depth. Ideally, that’s what you had in mind when you started the year. You expected to have them a lot sooner than we have, but we’ll be excited to have them both.
On Andreas Johnsson’s boost in confidence after his hat-trick inside the first period:
You’re important when you’re on the fourth line. Everybody on the team is important. All 23 people. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, you’re just learning the details of the game. You’re learning how big people are. You are learning how to hold onto the puck. You’re learning how to stand up in traffic. You’re learning to play in your own zone. You think you do, but you find out when you get here you didn’t have any details because the league didn’t need the same details because the players weren’t as good. That’s the biggest process for you.
The other thing about the league — and I’ve said this before — is that it takes your confidence away. The league is too good. You never touch the puck. But for Johnny, tonight is a big step. Now, can he turn it into something and get some rhythm in his game and get going? Ideally, he can.
On Garret Sparks’ comments that this shutout will help his mindset as far as knowing he can play in this league:
He said that, did he? K. The only problem with talking is that you’ve got to back that up then, right? The biggest thing I’d say to you is that all of these guys are trying to take steps. No different than Johnny today. Any time you get into the net and you find a way to play well and you find a way to win, I think that is a step. But I also think it is a process and it is a hard league. We see goalies all the time and how hard it is to survive in this league. There are real shooters. It’s tough on you mentally. The best thing you can do is enjoy tonight and get back to work tomorrow.
On whether the forwards in the bottom six might be sensing they’re competing with each other to stay in the lineup once Auston Matthews and William Nylander are back:
I don’t think they are sensing it. I think they know it. They’re smart guys.
On another game without a power play either way:
I thought we played well and then got away from it and got back to it. Tonight… Ideally, every once in a while, when you need it, you need a power play. Tonight it’s nice to have some rhythm off the bench, too. There was not a whole bunch going on to call penalties on tonight.