Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, ending their pursuit of home-ice advantage to start the playoffs.
On whether it is disappointing to follow up a good effort in New York with tonight’s performance:
What I would say to you is I thought we played last night and clinched a playoff spot. [The Islanders] clinched a playoff spot a while ago. I thought it was an emotional night for our team. I actually didn’t think we were very good in the first period. I thought we really battled back and made it a game. I thought Mrazek was excellent. That’s my answer.
On Garret Sparks’ game:
Any time you get an opportunity, you want a chance to win. That didn’t happen for him. We didn’t give him the help. They didn’t have a ton of chances. We did a good job around our net early, but they had zone time. I thought we got it settled out and going pretty good. In the end, Mrazek did a good job for them. That is the way it is.
On what the team is looking to accomplish in the final two games of the regular season:
First thing is we are going to do is take an off-day tomorrow. The level of emotional engagement of the two teams at the start — as I expressed already — was the fact that they were one point ahead of Montreal and we had clinched last night. There was a different level of emotional engagement. I don’t think that is a big surprise for anybody as a human being.
The second thing I would say to you is we will take the off-day tomorrow and we will get re-energized, like you do after a back-to-back, and we’ll get ready to play a good Tampa team.
On shuffling the lines throughout:
We weren’t going. We weren’t going and we were trying to get going. I thought we really did get going. There was no question we had a real good push.
On Calle Rosen’s showing:
I mean, in the end, we gave up too many goals tonight. I haven’t looked at them all, to be honest with you, but we’ll look at our defense and see what we could’ve done better. We’ve got to figure out what is going on on the backend in the next few days. I guess that could add to what you are doing based on guys’ health and who is available and who is not.
On Jake Muzzin and Andreas Johnsson sitting the game out:
They were both sick. If it was…. We just didn’t want to get them worse. I don’t know if that makes any sense. That is what was different about it than maybe normal.
On whether Jake Gardiner is going to need another practice before he potentially has a chance to play:
He’s been skating regularly here. I don’t know if they’re clearing him for the next game or not. I won’t know that until after the morning skate and then we’ll make that [decision]. We might dress seven D if that is the case just to make sure he is looked after.
On Travis Dermott’s play since returning to injury and whether he is back to his usual level yet:
Not tonight, obviously. Now, it’s back-to-back and we weren’t planning necessarily to play him back-to-back. But we chose to do that here tonight. I thought he had a good night last night and not quite as good tonight.
On putting just two shots on goal in the first period and what was said at the intermission:
They’re smart guys, too. They knew the emotional engagement wasn’t at the level it needed to be to play a good team. They’re a good team and they’re a hungry team. We knew it was going to be a tight game. We didn’t execute good enough in the first period, so we talked about it and I think things got substantially better for us.