On Wednesday, Babcock went on Tim and Sid to explain what he meant.
“I thought last night we worked hard, we gave up very little, they gave up nothing,” Babcock said. “Instead of getting frustrated, we just stayed the course, stayed patient and in the end we got our opportunities and won the game.
“So that’s why it was a thing of beauty. I thought it was a good step for our hockey team.”
The Maple Leafs had high expectations entering the season and while their 8-5-3 record has them in a playoff spot, it hasn’t come without some rough patches.
One consistent criticism of the Leafs this season has been their apparent lack of toughness, especially after big hits laid on star players didn’t draw any retribution. Babcock was asked about that specific train of thought, and he said all that matters to him is that his team has each other’s back.
“I think what we need to do is look after one another,” Babcock said. “The bottom line is, to me, we’ve got to harden our group and we’re going to do that over the winter. And as we harden our group, just from the battles of the regular season, we’ll understand what we need to be successful.”
One player who has shown he can stand up for his teammates in the past is Zach Hyman, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury. The Maple Leafs next play Thursday at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, and while it’s unclear if Hyman will play in that game, he has been practicing and appears to be close to returning.
“Hyman is an elite player for us and a very important piece, so when he gets back that will be great,” Babcock said.