Boston’s playoff experience — 17 current Bruins were on the team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago — is no longer as big an advantage.
In Game 2, Toronto forwards Matt Fratin and Ryan Hamilton and defenseman Jake Gardiner saw their first postseason action. Each had an assist.
“It’s a great sign when they step in and make a contribution. It’s worthwhile because it’s not a lot of fun when you’re not playing for extended periods of time,” Carlyle said. “All three players were young players, youthful, and added some enthusiasm to our hockey club.”
So did players Carlyle has come to rely on, forwards whose scoring ability is critical to any success the Maple Leafs have.
Joffrey Lupul scored twice Saturday after getting 11 goals in just 16 regular-season games. Phil Kessel scored on a breakaway after leading the team with 20 goals. And James van Riemsdyk scored after tying for second on the team with 18 goals.
“You want your best players to be your best and lead, but it takes every guy in the playoffs,” Lupul said, “from defense blocking shots and getting pucks out and playing physical in front of our net to forwards.
“You can’t win playoff hockey games with just three, four guys going. It’s going to take a team effort.”
The Bruins had that in the opener.
They were the more physical team and continually stymied Toronto’s efforts to get the puck out of its zone. They were more aggressive around the net and forced numerous turnovers.
But in the second game, the Maple Leafs set the tone early, delivering 22 hits in the first period while the Bruins dished out only 10.
“Probably the biggest challenge for our hockey club was finding that consistency in our game” in the past month, Boston left wing Milan Lucic said. “And there’s no better time to find it than now.”