Mike Babcock on losing streak versus Montreal: “We’re absolutely due”


Mike Babcock addressed the media after Friday’s practice, discussing the disappointing effort against New Jersey, the challenge against Montreal on Saturday, and more.

As you want your team to get to a certain point defensively, do you look at the last game and just move on from that? Is there a big picture thing here?

Babcock: If you look at the last game, for sure. If it’s still bugging you two days later, something’s wrong and we didn’t work. That’s on me. I didn’t have the team prepared and ready to go. We were no good in the morning skate. I could’ve zipped them. No matter what we said, they didn’t get prepared to engage at a high enough level. We got outchanced 7-3 in the first. That is totally unacceptable. We got outskated and we had no battle level. To me, you’re four games into your season and it can’t happen.

The other look is, “Hey Babs, lighten up – we’re 3-1.” No. You come to work every day. You be a good pro and you prepare to be a pro, and things go your way. The league is too hard to take nights off, and we did.

What does losing 14 straight to Montreal count for?

Babcock: Zero for me. We’re playing them tomorrow and I’m jacked up to have that opportunity. Would we like to beat them? Yeah. When you tell me that, we’re due. We’re absolutely due. But I think tomorrow’s game is more important than anything that happened before it. I don’t even know how many of those I was involved in. I’ve obviously lost a whole bunch to Montreal since I’ve been here. I must’ve lost to them 10 times by now, eh? Ten straight. Holy mackerel.

In talking to some of the guys about the slashing calls and talking to the officials, what is the sense you get…

Babcock: Let’s forget all of that. When you look at the most penalized team in the NHL, St. Louis has more minors but they’ve played one more game than us. We’re leading the charge. Other teams are getting it. The message being sent isn’t being received. We’ve got to fix it. We’re going to fix it.

It’s early, but what is your read on Frederik Andersen’s play thus far?

Babcock: He’s got to be a little better, just like the team. We’ve got to be better structurally in front of him. He’s got to be better as well. You add it all together and we haven’t been good enough. Our goals against – we worked real hard last year and went from 27th in the first half to 17th, and then we’re right back to what we were like at the start. To me, we’ve got to fix that and I think everyone is quite clear on that in our room.

Connor Carrick is good to go. What is the right-left complement do for your third pairing?

Babcock: That group has just got to get better as well. We’ve got to fix it. I think a huge part of it is confidence. You can’t give out confidence but you can help guys earn it by helping guys get better each and every day. We’ve got to do a better job of it here.

When you have guys in the press box, do you send them up with any things to look at?

Babcock: We meet with them on a regular basis to talk about their game and show them clips. They understand. We try to talk to them on a regular basis so they understand their situation and work with them daily. I don’t go to them and say, “Hey, there is a game tonight. Watch this.” I don’t do that.

Is having Hainsey on the team after a game like that show the value of a guy like that?

Babcock: I just think of all of those guys, our good veterans. Steady as we go. You don’t want to underreact and you don’t want to overreact. We’ve got to be ready for tomorrow and that’s what all of this is about – simply being ready for it.

Rielly said after Wednesday’s game that they can’t rely so much on just talent to win them games. Do you see that in them, especially after a loss like Wednesday’s?

Babcock: That’s what I said. We didn’t work. If you don’t put your work in front of your talent, you’ll never win when it matters. We were a rush team the other night. You’re never going to win when it counts like that. You can get points, but you can’t win.