Mike Babcock addressed the media via conference call on Sunday, discussing his team’s performances in Game 1 vs. Game 2, Nazem Kadri’s possible suspension (pending a hearing on Monday), and William Nylander and Auston Matthews’ performance level through two games versus Boston.
What needs to happen tomorrow night for your club to dictate pace and tempo the way you established it on Thursday night, and obviously, compared to what Boston was able to do last night?
Babcock: I think the games almost mirrored each other when you look at it. We were better and more physical and quicker, played a better 200-foot game and kept them off our D and got on their D in Game 1. It was the opposite in Game 2. Their level of urgency, as much as we talked about it and prepared for it, we didn’t match it. In the end, we made a couple of key mistakes early to give up two goals. When you look at all of their goals, there is no reason to give those goals up. The bottom line is we’ve got to be much better. We understand that and we know that. Now we’ve got to do something about that.
If you look at the Bruins now coming at you more like they did last night as opposed to Game 1, are you expecting that throughout the rest of the series whereas Game 1 might have been a bit of an aberration from their side?
Babcock: I guess you can look at it like that or you can just say we didn’t play as good. That is the way we look at it. We need to get into them instead of letting them get into us. Get off to that start and establish your game first and just play harder. I thought they played harder than we did last night and I thought we played harder than they did the game before. The series is now a best-of-five and it is in our building. We need to establish our game first tomorrow.
Are you disappointed that Nazem Kadri hasn’t learned his lesson from last year?
Babcock: I am not spending a whole lot of time on that. There is nothing I can do about it now. Obviously, when you prepare your team, you try to prepare them for all situations so you don’t cross the line. I think you’ve got to play real hard and you’ve got to look after yourself, but you can’t cross the line. Any time you leave decisions in someone else’s hands, it’s not within your control. I think with anything in your life, you want to be in control. You’ve got to own everything. You’ve got to own your play. You’ve got to own your discipline. You’ve got to own what is going on for you. In the end, Naz has someone else making decisions as to whether he is playing or not.
You talked to the league before the series about how the games are going to be officiated. Were you surprised by how much was let go last night?
Babcock: The bottom line for me is that each and every night, you get a set of four officials. They are no different than the teams. They are trying to advance. They eliminate officials as they go. They have people who watch them that decide whether they are the right people to move on. Everyone wants the same thing. The teams want the same thing. You want to advance all the officials. To me to sit back the next day and evaluate that, it is not within my control. We’ve just got to get our team ready to play.
Apart from the blunder on the goal by Nylander, what are your thoughts about his performance overall last night?
Babcock: I thought in Game 1 he had a real strong game. Not as good last night. Game 1, we really took care of the puck. Game 2, we didn’t take care of the puck. In the end, it led to our D being under swarms of pressure. We have to do a better job in that area.
It seemed like in Game 1 there was more room at even strength than there was in Game 2. What do you think went into that on the part of the Bruins?
Babcock: I think the biggest thing for us is that in Game 1 we had more room because we were on top of them. Game 2, they had more room because they were on top of us. It is real simple. If you spend too much time in your own zone, you play slow and the other team looks fast, and the other team has more room.
What have you thought of Auston Matthews’ performances through two games? He has two points in nine playoff games against Boston. What have you thought of him in this series?
Babcock: I thought he was much like our team. I thought his Game 1 performance was good. He didn’t score, but he was on it. I thought he had a good 200-foot game. I didn’t think anybody was as good last game. I think sometimes we get all caught up in who scored. To me, it is all about the team winning, but it is real important at this time of year that it is about your drive train. You’ve got to keep finding a way to dig in and find a way to create your own space and win your own battles. The more of those battles you win, the more opportunities you are going to get. He is a young player growing in the NHL and growing at playoff time. These are huge challenges and good challenges for him.