Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock wasn't pleased with his team's effort in Game 4.
"We didn't compete hard enough," Babcock told reporters following the 5-4 loss to the Washington Capitals. "I thought they won all the battles and all the races."
Throughout the season, Babcock usually remained pretty coy following losses in order to protect his young team. However, it's possible the club may have had too much confidence heading into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead.
"I thought today was the first time that maybe we weren't scared enough of them and it looked like it because our competition level wasn't good enough," said Babcock.
The Leafs certainly didn't come out with the same jump they had in Games 1 and 2 - and for most of the regular season. They had been one of the best first-period teams in the entire league, but in uncharacteristic fashion, they got off to a sluggish start in back-to-back games.
"You can come back once in a while from behind like we did the other night," said Babcock. "But I don't think you can spot the other team two goals all the time, especially now that they're energized and winning all the battles."
Though the poor start is ultimately what lost them the game, the Leafs deserve credit for relentlessly clawing back. They trailed 4-1 after the first frame, but only ended up losing 5-4. But as they say, being close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Given Babcock's emphasis on effort and compete level in his postgame press conference, you can expect the Leafs to answer the bell and come out firing on all cylinders to start Game 5.