BOSTON – The Leafs may have stumbled badly in their return to the playoffs but the way Joffrey Lupul sees it, they are just a win away from putting the heat on the Boston Bruins.
Toronto was dominated in a 4-1 loss Wednesday at the TD Garden, the Leafs’ first playoff game since 2004. Game 2 goes Saturday night.
Lupul was upbeat in a pithy two-minute, 14-second post-practice meeting with the media Friday.
“We’re fine,” Lupul said. “It’s kind of the good thing about (the) playoffs. We got beat bad in Game 1. But regardless it’s still 1-0. You win the game (Saturday), no matter how you do it, it’s 1-1 and the pressure’s on them.
“That’s the thing about the playoffs. When it’s over, whether you win a big game and dominate the game, or lose and have a bad outing like we did, it’s 1-0 regardless. We have that mindset and we’ll be ready to go (Saturday).”
For the second day in a row, the Leafs practised at Walter Bell Arena, home of the Boston University’s women’s hockey team. Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, as is his want, mixed and matched his lines.
The goal was simple. Move the puck, don’t give it away.
“What we’ve tried to do is just try to up the tempo of moving the puck. When there’s a man ahead of you, move it to him,” said Carlyle.
Without elaborating, the coach repeated that lineup changes are coming.
The Leafs were upbeat and pretty much singing from the same songbook. They played poorly in Game 1, they can play better and will do so Saturday.
Much has been made of the huge advantage in playoff experience that the Bruins have over the Leafs. Tyler Bozak, for one, admitted that Wednesday had an “amped up” feel.
“Maybe it was the nerves or whatever but the speed of the game felt a little quicker—a lot more checks,” said Bozak. “You had a little less time to make a play, I felt like.”
Clarke MacArthur was one of many Leafs to play in the post-season for the first time.
“You get that one game in, there should be no excuses now,” he said.
Carlyle, as is his way, offered a pithy analysis of the post-season.
“All it is it’s a little bit more raucous, it’s a little bit more physical and a lot more noise,” he said. “Other than that, it’s still a game played on an ice surface that hasn’t changed in size.”
Toronto may trail in the series but there is no shortage of swagger.
Centre Nazem Kadri, who pronounced the series “very, very winnable” prior to Game 1, was not backing down ahead of Game 2.
“Nothing’s really changed,” he told reporters.
Lupul skated with Bozak and Phil Kessel on the top unit Friday. James van Riemsdyk moved to a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Kadri was with Leo Komarov and Ryan Hamilton, and Jay McClement skated with MacArthur and Colton Orr. The final line saw Joe Colborne with Frazer McLaren and Matt Frattin.
Drew MacIntyre replaced backup goalie Ben Scrivens at practice. Scrivens was in Alberta for his grandfather’s funeral in Spruce Grove but is expected back in time for Saturday’s game.
MacIntyre, a 29-year-old from Stratford, P.E.I., who has landed with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League after a much-travelled hockey road, was called up as an emergency replacement for the practice.
Kessel and defenceman Cody Franson returned to practice after missing Thursday’s session—Kessel for a so-called maintenance day and Franson with a bruised foot.
Franson is dealing with some pain but “we fully expect him to be able to play,” said Carlyle.
As for the Bruins, coach Claude Julien cited defencemen Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson and Mark Bartkowski as possible replacements for the suspended Andrew Ference.
“We’ve still got a day here,” said Julien. “We’ve got lots of D’s (defencemen) that are available. We’ll make that decision (Saturday).”
The Boston coach had no comment on the league’s decision to suspend Ference for one game for an illegal check to the head of Grabovski.
Said Carlyle: “He elbowed our player and you live with the decision that they make.”
For Julien, the situation Saturday night is pretty basic.
“If we don’t play well, then we’re going to give them a chance and we have to play the best hockey that we can, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “We have to look after ourselves and not worry about what the other team is going to do.
“That’s what I said earlier on before the series started. It doesn’t matter to me what the Leafs do, what matter to me is what we do.”