Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday night. With their fifth win in a row on home ice, the Leafs’ record improves to 17-8-0 on the season and 11-0-0 after scoring first.
On his impressions of the game:
I thought, to be honest with you, we got off to a good start. I thought we were playing good. I thought they were better than us in the second period, especially in the first 15 minutes. They had two power plays where we couldn’t clear the puck. We had multiple opportunities to and we didn’t, and then they scored.
They didn’t score on the second one, but they could’ve easily scored. I thought it took us a while to kind of recover after that and get playing the way we could. And then I thought the third period was pretty even.
The power plays — obviously, we scored on the power play, but their power play was very dangerous the two times they had it there in the second. I thought that was when they tilted the game and had it going their way.
On why it seems like Mitch Marner is playing the game on another level from everybody else:
I think that’s what you think with all good players, is it not? If you are watching them, you think when #88 gets the puck, he is playing a different game than everybody else, too.
What is amazing is that most of us have no time and space whatsoever. We’re just banging it here and banging it there and chasing it. The other guys just seem to have all the time in the world. That’s what you’re talking about. They’re gliding all over the rink and it seems effortless and it seems like fun. It seems like they have the puck all the time and you can’t figure out why. They’re just better than everybody else.
On Igor Ozhiganov getting his first career NHL goal and his progression as a player:
The goal — nice for the kid that he got a goal and all of that, but what I like about him is he’s an elite passer. He’s a great big body. He’s going to become a real good penalty killer. He can crack his wrists and clear the puck. We haven’t played him in that situation at all, but we think he can become that.
The biggest thing, when you come from the big ice to the little ice, is that everything is so much quicker and you’ve got to get used to it. He can really shoot the puck. He hasn’t shown that yet. But he can pass it and he’s not afraid. He can take the hit and make the play at the same time. To me, that is where he has kind of separated himself.
On the depth the Travis Dermott – Igor Ozhiganov pairing has given the team on the blue line:
It’s like anything. What you are trying to do is get to be really deep. If you are going to have success, in the end, it’s not going to be about one line. The one line teams are always out of the playoffs. It is going to be about having four lines and six D — and maybe eight D — that can play. That is our goal: to build players as the year goes on.
You have to stick with the process and the process allows you to win in the meantime. But you’ve got to develop players and you’ve got to find players. Every time someone gets hurt or someone is not here, someone else gets an opportunity. That’s what you are seeing with our group. Ideally, we’ll end up deeper.