BOSTON — The first-game jitters are gone. Their top players are scoring. And the Toronto Maple Leafs are home for the next two games.
Everything seems to be going their way.
But everything seemed to be going the Boston Bruins’ way after a dominant 4-1 win in their playoff opener. Then the Maple Leafs took control with a hard-hitting first period and a 4-2 victory in Game 2.
So all the cheering on Monday night in the first playoff game in Toronto since 2004 won’t help if the Bruins bounce back the way the Maple Leafs did.
“There’s going to be a lot of, I guess, media coverage and a lot of things said and a lot of things done,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said, “but we have to stay focused on what we can control and we have to prepare ourselves to play a better Boston hockey club.”
The win that evened the best-of-seven series came exactly nine years after the last postseason game in Toronto. The Maple Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit in the third period but lost 3-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Jeremy Roenick’s goal 7:39 into overtime in Game 6 of the second round.
On Saturday night, there were plenty of loud fans sporting blue-and-white Maple Leafs jerseys in Boston. Imagine how many there will be in Toronto.
“I don’t think we’re a team that lets those things distract us,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “We’ve been through that before and we’ve played Montreal so many times in the playoffs, and that’s a pretty hostile environment as well.”
The Bruins also will have to handle opposing players who are better prepared for the playoff intensity than they were before the series. Thirteen Maple Leafs players have made their postseason debuts this year — 10 in the first game.