Maple Leafs aren't tired ... of winning

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:00 PM ET


 The Philadelphia Flyers will be big and nasty, the crowds at the Wachovia Center will be loud and possibly obscene and the Maple Leafs undoubtedly will be a little tired.

 Is this any way to start a playoff series?

 The guys in blue and white say yes.

 "It's good," winger Chad Kilger said. "We're excited. We played our best game of the series in Game 7 (against the Ottawa Senators), so I think if we continue that momentum, it will be good."

 Within 48 hours of eliminating the Senators, the Leafs will take to the ice tonight in Philadelphia to face a team that finished with two fewer points in the regular-season standings and enjoyed four complete days off before Game 1.

 On top of that, the Leafs likely will open the Eastern Conference semi-finals without captain Mats Sundin and power forward Owen Nolan, who are still plagued with the dreaded lower body injuries.

 Following an optional skate yesterday, the Leafs boarded a chartered flight and headed to the City of Brotherly Love.

 This is a squad that could use a fortnight to rest and regroup. Toronto coach Pat Quinn understands that, but is hoping that some of the adrenalin and excitement of defeating Ottawa will result in a spirited affair in Game 1.

 "There are a certain amount of reserves in everybody's body and you'd like time to build that back up, but (the schedule) doesn't provide that," he said. "So you hope there is some (momentum) from the joy of victory, so to speak, that will help us in (tonight's) game."

 The schedule isn't all bad news for the Leafs.

 Following tonight's Game 1, the Leafs and Flyers will get two days off, with Game 2 scheduled for Sunday in Philly. There also will be two days off before Game 3, back in Toronto next Wednesday.

 On top of giving the players some much needed rest, the break will buy a little time for Sundin and Nolan who are both determined to return to action in this round.

 Fatigue was certainly a factor in Toronto's Game 7 defeat in Philly during last year's Eastern quarter-final.

 The Leafs recorded a dramatic 2-1 overtime win over the Flyers on April 21 and immediately flew to Philly for Game 7 on April 22.

 With Game 6 going late and only one U.S. custom officer working at Pearson International, the players didn't get to bed until about 3 a.m. and came out flat in Game 7, losing the deciding game 6-1.

 "Our guys will be ready," general manager John Ferguson Jr. said. "At the end of the day, I'm not sure that the schedule makes a heap of difference."


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