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Babcock on injuries, Kadri, Hunwick

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


Here's what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had to say following the team's workout on Thursday.

Opening Remarks:

I think Bozak will be back, I don't know for sure 100 per cent. Gardiner is day-to-day but I know for sure he's not going to play in Montreal. Frankie was sent to the Marlies for a conditioning stint so we can put him right in the lineup after he has played games.

How good is three games in three nights for Corrado to get back in?

I think it's real good for him. I'm hoping he gets to play more than that, I think he -- if I'm not mistaken, conditioning is allowed to be 10 to 14 days or something like that. He could be down there for a large number of games, really get him playing good and then get him into our lineup when he's feeling good.

How can positivity help you as a coach over cracking down on players like with Kadri in Buffalo after the goal against?

I don't remember to be honest with you. A number of things happened on that play. The puck came by us on the wall, we should have been on the wall, the D man stepped up instead of being gapped up, the puck got by him. Naz started to fall and tried to make a pop out pass to Polak and missed it and they shot it in the net. We had lots of opportunities home free with the goaltender after that, had a little trouble hitting the thing with red around it there, we just couldn't hit the net but we had lots of opportunity. I guess the way I look at it, the positive thing for me is we got points in three of our last four games. I really thought we had an opportunity in Pittsburgh in the game, we ran out of gas and lost. You belief system to me is when you walk in the rink and know you're going to win. That is the step we have to get to. We've got to get working on our compete level, got to work on our structure and got to work on being heavier on the puck in the offensive zone. The next thing you know we'll be a much better hockey club and winning more often. We're making steps, I thought last night we competed better in the second and third and overtime than we did in the first. I didn't think we were as good in the first as we could have been. We didn't quite have everyone ready to go on time and that's something we can definitely fix.

Do you see a connection yet between Kadri and van Riemsdyk?

I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about that. I thought those two guys, they were unbelievable in 3-on-3. They got better as the game went on, they started slow last night. Any time you look at your centres and after one period one is 1-for-5 and one is 1-for-6 or something in the faceoff circle, that to me means we're not ready to go on time. We've got to do a better job starting than we did in the game. Even though we scored first I thought we could have been better in the first. You need to start on time to have success.

Do you feel like Kadri is improving without the puck?

I think he has been way better. I think he has been making drastic changes, I like his effort, I like his compete in practice, I like that he's at the front of the line in practice. I like him, I think he's doing a good job. Now, Rome wasn't built in a day and we're just going to keep working with him and he's going to keep working hard. The challenge for all of us is we can all be better tomorrow than we were today. So let's just keep getting better each and every day.

How did Hunwick do with a 27 minute workload?

Well we wouldn't have played him if we didn't like him. It's simple, some guys say to you, 'Hey coach, play me lots and I'll get confidence and I'll play good.' That's never been the approach I've used, chicken or egg, to me it's the idea you play good and the more you play good the more we catch you and the more you get to go out there. Hunwick arrived here, he was signed to be a great role model, be a great guy in the gym, be the good man that he is. He's been five/six lots of places he's been, he just decided he was going to be more than that and got better each and every day. DJ Smith must like him because he keeps putting him out on the ice. That's all I can tell you and he seems to do a good job when he's out there. We have the puck and he's breaking it out and he plays good without it.

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