May 14, 2013 by bmcconnelluwo
This is it.
No, not the title of a Michael Jackson documentary but the first time in 9 years the city of Toronto will see its beloved NHL team step onto the ice for a home playoff game.
With the series all square at one a piece, the Leafs are hoping to pull ahead with a big win tonight in front of the hometown faithful. To do that, the Leafs are going to have to do something they’ve struggled to do in the past – beat the Bruins in two consecutive games.
So, to keep the buzz around tonight’s game going and to settle my excited, irregularly beating heart, I’ve compiled a list of Dos and Don’’ts for the buds going into tonight’s game.
Keep up the tight, physical play on both the forecheck and backcheck. The Bruins are a large and nasty bunch but the Leafs have proven all season that they are too. In game one, the Bruins dominated them in practically every aspect of the game, including hitting. If the Leafs want to come out swinging tonight and deliver for the hometown crowd they’re going to have to keep playing the body.
Komarov—you Estonian wrecking ball—keep up the good work. Colton Orr and Frazer Mclaren, if Lucic and company get anywhere near Reimer, Kessel or Lupul, shut them down. But be smart about it, there’s no honor in taking 232 penalty minutes in the third.
Hand the puck over to the Bruins in the neutral zone or, even worse, in your own zone. Turnovers were a major factor in the Leafs loss in game one and have been a problem area for them all year.
The players know this, I’m sure, and Carlyle most definitely knows this. There are too many speedy, skilled players on the Bruins to be handing them a gift and letting them walk in on Reimer. Seguin lives for that kind of thing—stop giving it to him so easily.
Players trying to make fancy plays in the neutral zone, stretching a pass too far for the sake of a big play or simply having a brain fart while coming out of your own end are simply not going to fly in the playoffs. Consistent, conservative and responsible play—unless the big play is possible—is going to be what wins tonight’s game.
Drive the net, pound Rask with shots, dominate the neutral zone with your speed and use your offensive skill to your advantage.
The first and second lines in game two looked great—lightning fast, shooting and driving the net. But those were all absent during the first game. Boston effectively found a way to shut down our top offensive weapons and so they dominated the game from start to finish.
The passing, speed and finishing skills of Kessel, Kadri, Lupul and JVR are all things that will need to be on the ball tonight. When our offense is firing on all cylinders, the Leafs play the game they want to play—fast, physical and with plenty of goals.
They did this well in game two and the results spoke for themselves. Keep up the offensive flare in game three and good things should come your way at the end of the night.
Draw so many penalties that we end up spending a large chunk of the game defending our zone instead of using our aforementioned offensive prowess to control the flow of the game.
Like turnovers, sloppy play is one thing the Leafs have been plagued by periodically throughout the year. Whether it’s a bad line change leading to a too many men penalty or our players being stuck on the ice and taking a penalty due to fatigue, there have been many instances when we took a goal against us simply due to sloppiness.
The Bruins are a good enough team to be able to score key goals without the help of a penalty or poor line management. Let’s cut down one more variable.
If the Leafs can do all this, play like they did in game two and feed off the intensity of the ravenous crowd tonight, they should look good to take a lead in the series. I for one am looking forward to seeing what the boys can cook up to follow their last big win.