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Babcock following Thursday practice

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


Here's what Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say following Thursday's practice.

Do you expect to have Spaling back tomorrow?

Don't know.

What have you seen from the rest of the division and the conference and the playoff race?

I haven't spent a whole lot of time worrying about anybody else to tell you the truth. I just look at it and I say to myself, we're four points out today, we have a game to get to 20. My GM in Detroit, Ken Holland, always used to say after 20 it just keeps moving. It's almost impossible to get back in. If you're not close you're in a tough spot. I think the positive thing for us is that we seem to be getting better as a group and you want to give yourself -- it's way easier to play when you think you've got an opportunity so to me it's a good thing for our group and we've got to keep grinding. It's a big game for us and a big game for Carolina tomorrow.

How does Corrado earn himself a spot?

It's a real good question. I don't have an answer for you. He's done nothing wrong, it's not that we don't like him. It's just that when he arrived we wanted to give him the chance with the Marlies to get playing good and then our team got playing good. So, we're in the winning business and so we try to do the best thing to give the team a chance to win. That doesn't mean it's an indication of how he has played or what he's done. It's none of those things. Now what we've done is we've put him in a bad spot because he hasn't played in a long time.

Do you worry about his development?

I worry about the team, I always worry about the team and then all the other stuff looks after itself.

Do you like how the guys have grasped your practice style?

We haven't practiced at all this month, basically. I wanted to practice twice. I wanted them to skate more yesterday and I wanted to turn some lightbulbs on today and make sure they knew what we were focused on. We did our video session before to give them good focus and keep things real short -- energy is very, very important. So we want to have that, we play three in four and yet you can't just not practice, you've got to skate so we had to figure that out. We're trying to do the best we possibly can with that.

Does your schedule make practicing difficult with all the back-to-backs?

I just think -- I don't know if that's the way it is with our building or that's the way it is with TV, obviously if you play every second day it's a wonderful thing, but we don't. The schedule is what the schedule is.

How pleased are you with the guys who have been scratched coming back and being competitive?

I think it's competitive, period. I just think when guys get their opportunity they should do good things with it and when you get your chance you should keep the other guys out, whether that's in goal or on D or up front. The challenge for everyone -- to me, there's a lot of parity on our team, I really believe that. There's not a lot of difference between a lot of guys. So, if you work hard, you get to play.

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