“I expect them to come out very hard, physical and they’re going to be coming at us full-force,” Boston’s Johnny Boychuk said.
That’s just part of what the Maple Leafs must do to even the best-of-seven series.
“We didn’t play strong enough, and we didn’t win enough one-on-one battles,” Carlyle said. “We didn’t do enough with the puck to create anything. We just constantly turned the puck over.”
After James van Riemsdyk put the Maple Leafs ahead 1-0 on a power play just 1:54 into the game, the Maple Leafs had few solid chances.
Phil Kessel continued to struggle against the team that traded him to Toronto in 2009. He had just one shot after leading his team with 20 goals and 52 points in the regular season. In 23 games against the Bruins, he has three goals and six assists.
And, as usual, he was jeered by Bruins fans.
“I didn’t really pay attention to it,” Kessel said.
Both teams struggled late in the season. Boston lost seven of its last nine games and Toronto dropped four of its last six.
But Bruins coach Claude Julien had seen signs of improvement despite the losses. Carlyle is still waiting for them.
So he planned to deliver a direct message to his players:
“Accept responsibility for the way we played. Take these next two days and focus on how we can play faster and better, from a puck-moving standpoint. Our focus has to be to simplify our game, and there are some things that we did that are totally, totally unacceptable.”
The Bruins had twice as many shots on goal, 40-20. Many of those the Maple Leafs did take were hardly challenging.
“They didn’t have too many chances there, just a couple of tips and stuff like that,” Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said after his 14th playoff game, “but I’m not going to take a break there even if we’re up 10-0 because you never know what’s going to happen.”