Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night in the penultimate game of the regular season.
On the bad result despite a good performance:
I am disappointed I turned the puck over there with seven or six minutes or however many minutes were left. I thought we had a good game. That shift, we turned it over a couple of times already and in the end, we paid for it. We had some good chances ourselves in the third period. I didn’t think either team gave up very much. I thought it was a good defensive game. I thought it was a high-level game, to be honest with you, checking-wise for both teams two games before the playoffs.
On Jake Gardiner’s play in his return to the lineup:
I thought he was really good. He obviously hasn’t played in five weeks, but he made lots of plays and he created space, he made forwards better, and he didn’t give up anything, so he was good.
On Mitch Marner’s performance:
I thought he was a star. I thought he was really good. He is a good hockey player. He makes plays. He plays without the puck really, really well. In these big games, he is always in the right spot and knows where to play.
On the boost to the defensive depth that Gardiner’s return provides:
That’ll help, but also Rosen… if you’ve been watching, Rosen has been good, too, so that gives you an option that you didn’t know. You never know when the guy comes. You seem him skate, you see his points, and you’re hoping that he is going to be good. I’ve liked him, and I think as he gets comfortable, he’ll use his legs more. He is a real good skater. Probably his gaps aren’t quite what they are going to be as he gets more comfortable. I’ve been impressed with him. His ability on the offensive blue line and his ability to move the puck — he’s been good, and he hasn’t been a liability defensively.
On having three defense pairs now for the playoffs:
That’s what you’re hoping for, right? We’ve got another game here against Montreal, so we’ll find out more and get ready. You always need extra bodies at playoff time. That’s just the way it is.
On whether he’ll have his full lineup for Montreal:
I won’t have the full lineup. It’s just precautionary. I won’t have those guys (Muzzin and Kadri). We are not playing either one of them. Both of those guys are playing [in the playoffs], so no one needs to write big stories about it or anything like that. One is sick and one has got — I don’t know what you’d say — a booboo. They’re fine.
On Calle Rosen’s ability to walk the offensive blue line:
He is obviously a real good skater. What I like about him beyond his skating is that he seems to be able to get his shot through. He is a good hockey player, it appears. Now, obviously, let’s watch him.