Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night, extending the Leafs’ home winning streak to six games and improving their record to 18-8-0 on the season.
On his team’s performance:
I thought we obviously scored goals. I don’t know if we skated as good as we normally skate, to be honest with you. I don’t know when the last time was that we had a real practice. Ever since we came back from the West coast, I don’t know if we’ve skated as good as we can, yet we have good players and found a way to play good enough and win.
Big win for us against a good team.
On the decision to keep Marleau with Kadri and play Matthews in between Johnsson and Kapanen:
I wanted to match Naz’s unit against Pavelski. I just thought with Marleau there that gave me… Marleau can help out Matty, too, but I thought I was going to give Matty an easier matchup tonight and go that way. I thought that gave us the best…
I think you’ll see more rotation. Once we get everyone back and get Willy, too, I think you’ll see more rotation just because it doesn’t really matter as much, if that makes any sense.
On managing Matthews’ ice time in his first game back:
Marner played 18:30 with 24 shifts, 46 seconds each. He played one shift less and played 14:56 at 38 seconds. Obviously, he was getting on and off the ice, right? But he should be, too, your first couple games to get yourself going. I don’t know if he’s going to go this way for a bit, or if he can maintain it. Obivously, he’s a real talented guy, a big guy, a smart guy. He was good for us.
On whether the team’s depth is at the point they want it to be now looking ahead to the playoffs:
When you saw it last year in the Spring, we lost in the first round. The team that beat us lost in the next round. The team that beat them lost, too. If you want to play four rounds, you have to have lots of depth and real good players. That is what we are trying to create here as best we can. Guys have been given a real good opportunity. We’ve had 12 forwards all year, basically, so they’ve been given a real good opportunity to state a case for themselves. As we get people back, obviously, things will change.
On whether the Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen line is one of the fastest he’s coached:
I never saw what you’re seeing tonight, but I mean… I’d have to think about it. I don’t know for sure. I think we can play so much faster than we are playing right now. I think we are going to. We’ve got to get practising a little bit here and get our legs back and get jumping. Obviously, when we get everyone on deck, we will be a quick team. Willy can fly, too, so…
On Bobby Hastings having the stick ready for Marner at the bench before he set up the fifth Leafs goal:
You thought he was quick? [Laughs]. We were giving it to him pretty good.