Mike Babcock addressed the media after practice on Monday, discussing the team’s progress through the calendar year 2018, the latest injury updates on Frederik Andersen, Zach Hyman and Tyler Ennis, and William Nylander’s confidence level.
We saw Frederik Andersen out there earlier on the ice. Any update on his condition and timeline?
Babcock: Nope. We’ll have an update for you after next practice. Freddy will practice tomorrow with [Steve Briere] and we’ll see how that goes. I don’t know if he’s on the ice for us the following day or not. They’ll tell me. I don’t ask those things; they tell me when they’re ready, so we’ll go from there.
After a flat game like the last game, what do you tell the guys in the first practice back?
Babcock: Our big thing here today wasn’t… We just went 5-0-1 and had a good run. We’ve had three five-game winning streaks, two with an overtime loss in the six games. Obviously, you’d like to get back at it, but what we did today was talk more about where we are at coming up to the midway point. Because we’ve got four days where you are not coming off a break and you actually have four days to get better, we are going to use rest and practice to do that. It’s just where we’re going and what we’ve got to do to get better — that is what we tried to focus on here today.
Do you anticipate you’ll bring Kasimir Kaskisuo back up?
You are planning on Garret Sparks starting on Thursday?
Babcock: Let’s get it clear: There is no plan. Freddy is practicing tomorrow. I am going to see you the next day. At that time, I am sure you are going to ask me, and if I have any information, I am going to share it with you. My intention is always… I thought he was starting two games ago, right? Or a game ago.
The line tweaking you did today, will that stay through the next practice or was that just for today?
Babcock: Yeah, we’ll have to figure that out. What I’ll do is… Today wasn’t the kind of day to monitor that as much as the next day will be. We’ve got one prescout done, but they play tonight and we’ll have that done and then we’ll get ourselves set up the best way to have success.
How weird is it for you to have New Year’s Eve night off?
Babcock: In Detroit, I think we played New Year’s Eve all the time, if I am not mistaken. It is what it is. Our guys get a chance to get freshened up here and I think that’s a good thing. We practiced hard today. They worked hard. Good off-day for them tomorrow, and then they come back for another practice. They should be ready to go. To me, obviously, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I never really thought, when I was graduating high school in 1981, about 2019, to be honest with you, so…
Do you make resolutions?
Are you at the point where you kind of know what you are going to get from the team most nights?
Babcock: No, not necessarily. We’ve never really, at any time this year, had a full lineup. We lost Hyms. Once we get back and get everyone on deck, I think we will have a better read of where we are going to be at. Umm… No.
Do you think that changes once you get everyone back and you start matching them again?
Babcock: That is what I’d like to do. When I get his group, that gives them a fighting chance, and that’s what we’d like to do. Now, we’ll see how it all goes. He’s got to play good, too, right? We’ll see as we move ahead. We’ve got lots of time for that stuff. What I tried to impress on the players today is that we had a pretty good 2018 and won lots of games. In saying all of that, we now are in a spot that we expect more and would like to get more. We’ve got to improve on how we play if we’re going to get more.
When Naz is at his best, is it competitiveness that is the whole key?
Babcock: The whole thing is you’ve got to be competitive. You’ve got to be on it each and every day. You’ve got to be energized and getting after it. That’s for all of us. We’re all the same way. We think Naz is a real good player and can be real effective when we need him to be.
In terms of wanting more and expecting more, do you impress that on Nylander or are you just kind of allowing him to ease in?
Babcock: I don’t know about easing in. Did you guys talk to him today? What do you think that does to a guy? What I think it does is, when you come back and you have an expectation for yourself and it doesn’t go as good, it tends to put pressure on you. How do you handle that? Don’t get in your own way. Just come and play hard and compete real hard. The weight of the world… You get one to go in the net, and it is probably going to be off his butt, but if you get one to get in the net, it’s amazing how the world comes off you and you get on with it. That’s what we’re hoping [for]. He played with Matthews last game.
Any update on Hyman and Ennis?
Babcock: Hyman is out there working and was on the ice today. I don’t know what the timeline is. I’m not asking. I know he is going to do everything possible. Tyler is further back.