Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles digs in at the MasterCard Centre during an optional skate on Thursday. Liles draws back into the lineup for Game 5 in Boston on Friday. (Craig Robertson, Toronto Sun)
TORONTO - For the majority of Maple Leafs on Thursday, the preparation for Game 5 against the Boston Bruins was happening between the ears.
Whether the Leafs have the mental strength to forget they have to go on a three-game winning streak to advance to the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs will go a long way to determining whether they can stay alive on Friday night in Boston.
If they don’t, of course, their season is done.
“The bottom line is that you can’t change what happened,” coach Randy Carlyle said in reference to a 4-3 overtime loss on Wednesday. “And now it is time to gather this group together, reset, refocus, re-energize, do all the things that we normally do. We have to go in and win a game in Boston.”
The Bruins lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal 3-1. A victory in Game 5 and not only will they play in the second round, but they will have some luxurious days of rest in the meantime.