May 14, 2013 by bmcconnelluwo
The ACC and Maple Leafs Square are set to be painted once again in blue and white tonight by tens of thousands of screaming fans, all hoping the Leafs can pull off another miracle victory over the Boston Bruins to send the series to the seventh game.
After a valiant effort in game five, and after narrowly holding on in the third, the Leafs are hoping to do something they haven’t done in the playoffs this year—win at home.
So, to set the mood for tonight’s battle, I’ve compiled a list of take-aways from last game for the Leafs—and their fans—to bring into yet another elimination game.
1) Our win in game five was one part Reimer, two parts divine intervention
Once again the man who’s been scrutinized and put under the microscope all year by the Toronto faithful and the rest of the league came up big and stole a game.
After dominating the first 40-minutes of the game, the Bruins turned it on in the third, peppering Reimer with 19 shots, and leading to a game-total of 44. Reimer stood tall under the relentless pressure—on enemy ground—and literally stole the game for the Leafs.
Every year there is at least one goalie who steals a series for their team—Anderson, Halak. Let’s hope Reimer can pull off a heist himself against the pressing Bruins.
But Reimer and the Leafs also got some help from the hockey Gods above. Two posts and a shot from Jaromir Jagr off the knob of Reimer’s stick in the dying seconds wasn’t skill, that was divine intervention.
But, as Claude Julien said in a post-game interview, if you play the way the Leafs did in game five, the hockey Gods are going to look favorably upon you.
Let’s hope they keep their positive energy flowing going into tonight’s game.
2) The Leafs hometown crowd loves you way more than the Bruins crowd did
Having the “home ice advantage” is one thing but taking advantage of it is quite another, as the Leafs have shown this postseason.
Despite—or perhaps because of—the crowd fervor in TO, the Leafs have not yet been able to bank a win on home ice. This is going to be a major factor going into tonight’s game.
The pressure of the Leafs fan base has always taken its toll on players, no more so than the team’s captains and goalies. But if the Leafs can feed off this energy tonight and play the game like they did in game five then expect to see a favorable result for the sea of blue and white.
Reimer has proven he is more than capable under the pressure; let’s hope the rest of the team can as well. Phanuef had a solid bounce-back game on Friday and the team is going to need to look to his leadership and defensive poise tonight if they hope to stave off elimination.
3) Kessel and Lupul are good but they can’t do it all
Secondary scoring and the explosiveness of one Mikhail Grabovski were two nice additions to the Leafs play in game five. It’s by no means a secret to the Bruins or the rest of the world with eyes that Kessel and Lupul can score. We rely on them; other teams hate them—thank you good sirs.
So, it comes as little surprise that when they’re covered too much to score, we need others to step up. And that’s exactly what Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur did in game five.
Going into tonight’s game the Leafs secondary scorers are going to need to step up once again. Kadri is going to have to finally get something going, the second and third lines need to contribute and Grabovski needs to continue playing like a fighter jet about to take off—let’s hope he can get off the ground.
So there you have it. The Leafs need Reimer to be Optimus Reim as he’s done all season, they need to feel the love and take advantage of the sea of fans, their scoring depth needs to be firing on all cylinders and the hockey Gods need to throw the team a few more divine interventions.
Do this and the blue and white will be seeing the light of game seven.