Mike Babcock on Saturday
There’s not a lot here that’s earthshaking. Babcock talks a lot about how the exhibition games will do more to determine the lineup that this camp. He again talks about Par Lindholm in glowing terms. He also confirms that Kasperi Kapanen is absolutely an NHL player, which isn’t news.
The very long pause when a reporter asks if anything took him by surprise, took me by surprise. Babcock says that he’s not sure about some things now he’d like to be. He hints that there’s some players who are “smarter skaters” than he thought they were, which is really interesting.
Babcock does say that he’s interested in changing up the PK units. He has to, to some extent, with Leo Komarov and Dom Moore not on the team. We should expect to see Zach Hyman and Connor Brown on the PK some, but then he said:
I’d like Mitch and John to play a little bit at the end of the power plays. But they’ve got to be good killers. It’s a good theory and it’s good for their ice time. I don’t care about that. I like winning.
Don’t we all? Count me in the does not care about who ranks where on the ice time. (Well, the five-on-five, I do, but not the all-situations.)
When I wrote this:
Tavares played a lot of penalty kill minutes in the last two years, which he had never done before. He scored three short-handed goals in that time, but his Corsi Against rate on the PK was so bad last season, he’d have been kicked off the second PK unit on the Leafs and told to never come back. The year before last, it was at least mediocre. This doesn’t really seem to be his forte, however, and on the Leafs, there’s a lot of younger forwards who are better. We might rarely see him on the PK, although using him and Marner on the last PK shift to start the transition to five-on-five would be a lot of fun.
Someone on Twitter mentioned that they’d be cheering for Auston Matthews to take penalties so he’d be the guy coming out of the box which, yeah, I’d like that.
Arvind dug a little deeper than I did on Tavares’s PK results, and relative to his team, he was very good. So grading on the Islanders curve, he might be better than I initially thought. But don’t expect these two to be the regular second unit.
Travis Dermott is always in a good mood, and he seems very happy here. He gives a favourable scouting report on Igor Ozhiganov.
He also, very nearly, says the Leafs aren’t planning the parade yet. Ah, that’s a Toronto boy, all right.
It’s weird to think back to that big long Babcock pause, and wonder if the defence is what he’s unsure of or if it’s the forward deployment.
Dermott closes with a very fan-like precis of the way Tavares plays.
What does Zach Hyman think of his new centre, John Tavares? He thinks he’s pretty good, oddly enough.
Hyman also thinks it’s going to be fun to go to Lucan on Tuesday. And he has a bit of a report on Ozhiganov too.
Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren
The Leafs seem a little more open about letting their youngest prospects and players meet the media, but these two still get the carefully managed interview with Paul Hendrick.
Rasmus Sandin is happy, and totally not telling where he will play this season.
Timothy Liljegren is his more subdued self, but he has good things to say about his Marlies’ season.
And that’s most of yesterday’s interviews. Sometime later today or tomorrow, we’ll have the scrimmage highlights and today’s scrums for you.