Five things the Leafs must do to beat the Bruins on Saturday.
1. Tighten up defensively. Allowing in the neighbourhood of 40 shots against like the Leafs did in their 6-3 loss to Boston on Wednesday is a recipe for disaster against the Stanley Cup champions, especially on home ice. Of course, trying to contain hulking Milan Lucic in front of the Toronto net will be easier said than done. As well, whichever goalie the Leafs go with, he simply can’t allow the type of odorous goal that plagued Jonas Gustavsson on Wednesday.
2. Weather the early storm. You can bet the TD Garden is going to be raucous with a rare Saturday night tilt on Hockey Night in Canada against the Toronto Kessels. During the Stanley Cup final, the Bruins fed off the crowd with a relentless forecheck that featured carefully placed dump-ins that were followed by the wallpapering of opposing defenceman into the back boards. The Leafs need to keep their clearances simple and use their speed to keep the Bruins out of their end.
3. Memo to Phil Kessel: Wear earplugs. Kessel’s woes against his former mates are well documented, especially on Boston ice. With every chant of “Thank You Kess-el!” from the capacity Beantown throng, the enigmatic sniper seems to press even more. In order to finally beat the Bruins this season, Phil The Thrill needs to be at his best, not lapse into a shell.
4. Build on the momentum of Wednesday’s loss. The 6-3 scoreline was a bit misleading: In fact, the Leafs could have actually won the game with a favourable bounce or two. In fact, they actually made defending Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas look vulnerable at times. If the Leafs accentuate what they did well and forget about the mistakes, they might actually be able to bring some confidence into Boston despite being 0-3 against Boston this season.
5. Listen to your fathers! This is the Leafs’ annual dads trip and all the proud poppas will be watching intently. And NOBODY wants to get reemed out by your pop after a bad game, whether it’s leaving Scarborough’s McGregor Arena after a house league game or the TD Garden after an NHL tilt.