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Babcock on injuries, Saturday in Montreal and more

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke to media following Sunday's practice, which did not include Leo Komarov and Nick Spaling. Both are expected to play on Monday. Here's what Coach Babcock had to say...

Is it a positive that Gardiner and Bozak got time on the ice today?

Well obviously they make us a better team and we'd like to have them back. We'd like to have them right now. The way I look at it though is Froese got to play last night. He's dash-3 on the sheet and wasn't involved on one of the goals against at all so to me I thought he was pretty good. I liked him and he'll play again tomorrow. The other guys get an opportunity they wouldn't get and that's a good thing and if I'm players in the meantime -- we did so many good things last night that you should get rewarded for it. At the same time we found a way to make enough mistakes to give them opportunities for goals and you can't do that. You've got to keep playing the same way and stay patient and not give up those situations that we did. We know Carey is going to be good so we can't give them opportunities, that's just the way it is.

When you look at tape is it a matter of isolating mistakes?

What we did is we went through the mistakes today, any reoccurring theme, that's what we've done every day is try to build our structure and we're going to keep doing that. While you're also building your structure you've got to build your belief system. I'm not coaching players, I'm coaching people. So, when you're not rewarded, sometimes you get discouraged. To me, that's crazy, why would you let that get in the way? We know where we're going, we know we're going to be a good team, just keep on plugging and, don't get me wrong, in my heart and my mind I knew we were winning last night in Montreal and we didn't. So, then you've got to regroup and get yourself back in order. My job is to lead the group and you've got to look after yourself first. The bottom line is I've got to do a better job with the team so we don't make mistakes.

Did you feel like your power play was close to breaking through?

We had unbelievable opportunities but it didn't go in the net whereas they had two and it went in the net. That's the way it goes. You can look at it any way you want. I've always chosen to look at it like it's going to happen, it's going to happen, it's going to happen and if you stay determined it works out. That's how I've lived my whole life and that's how I'm living now. We'll have an optional skate tomorrow, we tried to get our energy back up and work on a few simple things here today to get some focus. Work on our penalty kill, our forecheck, we basically walked through it to get ready for tomorrow.

Do you see what you're teaching starting to get into the players?

We've been seeing it for a long time but we just don't see it for 60 minutes. Let's call a spade a spade here. We had 52 shots but we had 24 scoring opportunities last night. That's an unbelievable amount. But we gave up some opportunities that ended up in our net and the bottom line is we didn't find a way to win the game. So any way you look at it, when you win your Sunday is better than after you lose. That's the way sports is supposed to be. It's the real world we're living in so let's get back at 'er.

Is the transition game causing the mistakes?

I thought yesterday we made mistakes, mistakes at their blueline. We don't really pinch at the offensive blueline, we gap up and stay up. We pinched a few times and got caught. I thought that was an area of concern. The penalty kill, we gave them two goals on the penalty kill. When I look at those alone, that's solves three goals' problems right there. Right from the get-go. We can fix those things, those are very fixable. Then they got in behind us. At the start of the third period they got in behind us when we kind of felt bad for ourselves before we got ourselves playing again -- just keep playing. Get ready for one shift tomorrow, come back to the bench, get a drink of water and get ready for the next shift. Life will be good, I promise.

Do you give Holland an opportunity to come back in Monday?

Holly will get an opportunity I'm pretty sure to come back. We'll see what happens the rest of the day as far as injuries go and go from there.

Do the number of home games coming up present an opportunity to create positive momentum?

I think the big thing here is I saw the schedule obviously before it started and I liked the fact we got to play a lot on the road. You get matches at home -- in saying that, when you play good home is great to be. When you don't play good, sometimes it's harder to play at home. The way I look at it, let's just keep getting better. Let's not worry about anything else. Let's worry about this room and getting better each and every day and you'll be amazed at what happens.

Is there merit to chemistry in pairs of players on lines or is that something we blow out of proportion?

I think chemistry is good but I also think having a couple of guys together, you can move people around to spark them once in a while. But, you guys have to write stories too right? So you've got to make some stuff up every once in a while. Nothing wrong with that.

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