Mike Babcock addressed the media after the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-1 Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins.
On the team’s inability to get the result despite arguably out-playing Boston in the first 40 minutes:
I thought we played pretty good. They shot the puck in the net. I thought we played real good until 3-1, and then at 3-1, I didn’t think we had anything after that. But I thought we played real good and carried lots of the play and executed and played the way we wanted to play.
It is disappointing, though. I thought our series this year compared to last year we were a way better hockey club. In the end, we weren’t rewarded. But I sure am proud of the guys. I thought we really worked. I think we are really taking steps and going in the right direction.
We’ve got to push through and get through this. That is just the bottom line. You want to keep playing. We’ve got a good group of guys. You want to keep playing and hanging out together, and now you are starting again. As you know, in the offseason, there are always transactions. People leave. It is disappointing for our group. Part of the scars and the pain you feel in building a franchise. Disappointing today.
On how difficult it was for Jake Gardiner to come back from the injury and play through it:
Well, he’s not mobile and it’s unfortunate. He tried to give us what he could and tried to help us. Obviously, any time you are playing a guy that is not 100%, you think he is better than the guys that are available that are 100%. He did what he could, and in the end, it wasn’t enough to help us through this series. In saying that, no fault on his part.
On what he saw from Boston’s third and fourth line and why they were able to be successful on the night:
Well, they shot it in the net. Today, they got two goals? I think they got the two, didn’t they? Didn’t they get the 1st and the 3rd goal? I mean, they threw them at the net and they went in.
I liked our game today until it got to be 3-1. As I said earlier, I thought we played well and I thought we were organized. I thought we played fast and I thought we had lots of zone time and play. In the end, it ended up in our net.
On what the team has to do to take the next step:
We’ve got to push through this. You can’t be talking after a playoff series about how you’re going home. That’s the bottom line. We’ve improved our team drastically. You’ve witnessed it. This series, we were a way better team than we were a year go, but we are at the same point with the same result here today. That is disappointing. But it also, if you talk to our players and our staff… We are a way better team.
You see in the NHL how competitive is. We knew we were going to play this team or Tampa early in the year. You knew it was going to be competitive, and yet I was impressed with our group here. I didn’t like that we were down 3-1 here. I didn’t like that. I didn’t think the play warranted that at all, but we were.
On where the team needs to improve going into next year:
I think we’ve got a couple of guys coming that will help us up front for sure and make us bigger up front. I mean, Kapanen and Johnsson played in the minors last year and were on our second line this year. Obviously, having Willy for a whole season so he can play at the level he is capable of playing at is real important for us. It was unfortunate, the incident with Naz. He wasn’t available. It was like an injured player in the playoffs. We thought that was going to give us some depth and would’ve allowed us to move Willy around a bit, which we were never allowed to do.
I think those are things right there. You’ve just got to keep improving. Dermott is a second-year player or first-year player, or whatever you want to call it. He’s got to get a lot better. We’ve just got to keep grinding away and making things happen for ourselves. When you look at our group… As a management team, we’ll look at our group and see where we can get better.
On Patrick Marleau seeing the ice with the goalie pulled:
We were down two. We needed two. We had two groups. Tavares’ group had just been on the ice. We were going with the next group and we felt Pat should be out there.