May 1, 2013
'It's a very, very winnable series': Kadri on Leafs vs. Bruins
By QMI Agency
BOSTON - The Leafs may be heavy underdogs to the Bruins, but they certainly aren’t lacking in confidence.
When the puck finally drops to end the franchise-record playoff drought of nine years tonight at the TD Garden, the visitors expect to give the Bruins all that they can handle.
“It’s a very, very winnable series,” said centre Nazem Kadri, who like many of the young Leafs will be making his NHL playoff debut against the Bruins. “I want to be one of those go-to guys and (tonight) is certainly a way to make it happen.”
With the first two games here in Boston, the Leafs will be looking for at least a split in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final. And if there are any nerves at being on the big stage, they better disappear in a hurry in what promises to be an emotionally charged atmosphere tonight.
“We have to be ready when they say go,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Duck. “We’re asking our people to be more than ordinary.
“We’re going to respect the Bruins, but we’re not going to be in awe of them.”
As he has been preaching all season, Carlyle said the Leafs have to forget about the tough past - nine years out of the post season and no championship since 1967. And what better place to start than against an Original Six and divisional rival.
“We’re trying to forge our own identity for the Toronto Maple Leafs and not what anyone has done historically,” Carlyle said following the team’s morning skate here. “We have to live now. We have a task at hand that is a tall one and we have to meet the challenge head on.
“Our team has to play at a higher level than they’ve ever played at before.”
The challenges will come in many forms. Will the Leafs be able to match up the physical Bruins? How will James Reimer be able to withstand the pressure of his first NHL playoff experience. Will Phil Kessel finally have an impact against his former team?
As expected, the Leafs will have centre Tyler Bozak back in the lineup and Carlyle says he expects him to be able to perform at 100 per cent efficiency. Given the Bruins strength on faceoffs, it’s a crucial area for the Leafs heading into the series.
So to will the physical battles, especially against a Bruins team that has forged its reputation on banging.
“The first round historically has been the most aggressive (in the post season),” Carlyle said. “That’s what we’re expecting.”