Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, the Leafs’ fifth loss in their last seven games.
On the team’s performance and the snakebitten-ness around the net:
You’d like to finish. I thought we started in the first eight minutes and we were great. I didn’t think we were great for the next ten. We had a real good power play to finish the period, and then I thought we really played well at the start of the second. We took some penalties and didn’t kind of get our rhythm back. We had a good third. We had lots of good players. We didn’t score. We had empty nets and the works, so we’ve got to bear down.
We’ve got a number of guys who haven’t scored in a bit. The way I look at it that, usually, is that it’s usually going to change. We’ve got a number of guys that are like 0 for 11 and 0 for 10. For those guys, the puck is going to go in if you work hard.
I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. I didn’t think we got in our own way. Obviously, a disappointing way to end. I didn’t think we were good tonight as we have been in the last two games, but I still thought we had lots of opportunities.
On whether he likes the strides the team has made defensively, in general, this week:
I mean, obviously, that is the key thing for us. We know it. It continues to be a huge issue–not issue, but a thing we have to work on to get better at. We’ve talked about it every day and continue to talk about it. I’d like to get us in a little more rhythm so we feel better. Tonight feels better if you win. That is the bottom line. But I like the process we are in and I like how hard guys are playing.
On Zach Hyman being one away from 20 goals and the evolution of his offensive game:
When he played with Willy and Matty, he was behind the net more and was digging more pucks out. Playing with John, John does more of those things as well, so he ends up shooting more. But all of those young players’ games are just growing. You look at all of our young guys and they continue to get better and we need them to get better because we count on them. I still consider Marner and Matthews and Hyman and those guys young players in the league, but they’re getting better, along with our kind of next wave of guys.
On Auston Matthews’ comment that he’s trying to ramp up as the playoffs get closer and how he’s battling to break through offensively (16 shot attempts, 4 on net):
He had some great looks. Really good looks. I didn’t even realize after one how many good looks I had until I saw it in the room. Work hard. To me, it is all process. Do good things and good things will happen. It doesn’t happen right away all the time but it’ll happen. I think the adversity we faced here a week ago — I said it at the time and I think it is now — is a good thing. We’ve got to dig in. It is not supposed to be easy. Dig in.