Rob Longley - May 12th, 2013
With two series remaining in the Eastern Conference playoffs, one of the matchups for the next round has been etched in stone – the pesky Ottawa Senators will face the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.
But what about the other tilt?
As crazy as it may seem, the Leafs still have a shot at home ice for the next round should they be able to force a Game 7 against the Bruins and then finish it off the following night in Boston. If the Washington Capitals finish off the New York Rangers then the Leafs would travel to D.C. for a series that would likely begin on Wednesday night. But if the Rangers do what the Leafs are trying to do and succeed, then the No. 5 seeded Toronto would play host to the No. 6 seeded Rangers.
That’s a lot of cart before a lot of horse, of course, but both are possibilities.
As for tonight’s contest at the Air Canada Centre, the Leafs will be attempting to do what many teams before them have done to the Bruins. In five of their past six playoff series, Boston has been forced to go the distance.
Terry Koshan - May 9th, 2013
Would Randy Carlyle like to see Phil Kessel cut to the net more often?
But even though the Maple Leafs’ season is on the line on Friday night, the Leafs coach wasn’t about to sit his star forward down for a heart-to-heart chat.
There have been times when Kessel, who has been solid against the Boston Bruins nonetheless, has chosen to shoot from less-than-good angles rather than try to muscle past Zdeno Chara, among other Bruins defencemen. But there have been times when Kessel’s speed has allowed him to burst past Boston defenders for scoring chances.
“You’re asking me to criticize a player’s selection of what he does in that situation,” Carlyle said. “That’s why players are what they are.
“As a coach, you would like to see him score every time, it does not matter how he gets it done. For me to put my two cents in, of course we would like every player to go to the net and pull the puck inside, outside and go around Chara and go upstairs and do all those things.
“We would love that. We would love to see him snap one from the top of the faceoff circle and go top shelf on Tuukka Rask. You would like to see it go five-hole or short side.
“We just want a goal scored in those situations. As far as criticizing or giving advice, there is lots given, but now is not the time or place.”
Kessel has two goals and an assist in the first four games of the series.
Terry Koshan - May 9th, 2013
Mark Fraser is recovering at home after having surgery on Wednesday night.
The Maple Leafs defenceman was hit in the forehead by a Milan Lucic shot during the Leafs’ 4-3 overtime loss against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“(Fraser) had surgery last night to repair a fracture between the eyes and the cranial area, but I don’t know if you would call it a fractured skull, I think that’s a little bit severe,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said as a handful of Leafs participated in an optional skate at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke.
“He was texting and in conversation with his teammates this morning before 8 o’clock. So he is back on the road to recovery.”
Look for John-Michael Liles, who has been a healthy scratch the past three games, to get back into the lineup for Game 5 on Friday night in Boston.
The Leafs recalled defenceman Jesse Blacker from the Toronto Marlies with Fraser out.
“We have a decision to make, but I would probably bet on John-Michael Liles getting the opportunity to play over Blacker,” Carlyle said. “You have a guy who has played with our hockey club most of the year and has been in and out of our lineup, but has been a great soldier. A veteran guy who is going to get a chance to get back in the lineup.”
Lucic skated right over to Fraser after the incident. Fraser was helped off the ice and left a pool of blood in his wake.
“Any time you see that, no matter if it is your teammate or not, you want to make sure the guy is all right,” Lucic said. “It was good to see it was not an eye injury.”
The Bruins lead the best-of-seven 3-1 and would oust the Leafs with a win on Friday.
“The bottom line is that you can’t change what happened, now it is time to regroup and that is what we are here to do, gather this group together, re-set, re-focus, re-energize, do all the things that we normally do,” Carlyle said. “We have to go in and win a game in Boston.”
Rob Longley - May 8th, 2013
Fascinating at times to follow the developments in the new Maple Leafs ownership group given the broadcast interests.
As with all Toronto media, TSN (owned by MLSE partner Bell) and Sportsnet (owned by MLSE partner Rogers Media) have been omnipresent during this playoff series. With so many bodies to fill all the various platforms, in fact, one of the groups was considering chartering a plane to take the troops to Boston for Game 5.
Part of the deal, when the two bitter broadcast rivals united in ownership of the Leafs (and the rest of the MLSE family) was to share radio rights. For the most part, it has been down the middle.
But tonight’s Game 4 is a Rogers game and since Rogers also is majority owner of the Blue Jays, Sportsnet Radio is airing the baseball game. As a result, the big playoff game is being shuffled off to the Rogers family’s all-news AM station.
No word on weather the home radio crew of Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph will be offering “traffic and weather together on the ones,” as the station usually does, 24-7.
Rob Longley - May 6th, 2013
After a slow start to the playoffs – just two games in the eight days since they finished the regular season, the pace of the Eastern Conference quarter-final series between the Maple Leafs and Bruins is about to pick up.
Starting with Monday’s Game 3 at the Air Canada Centre, the two Northeastern Division rivals could square off five times in the next eight days if the series goes the distance. The intensity that clearly builds in any playoff series should be in in fine form by the weekend if the action continues.
After the first playoff game in Toronto in nine years, Game 4 goes Wednesday night with Game 5 scheduled for Boston on Friday. And it’s in the remaining “if necessary” games where things get crazy. Game 6 is back at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday – and there has been much discussion about a possible afternoon start for that one – and if Game 7 is required, it will be back at the TD Garden on Monday night.
So who would a long, condensed series favour? Would it be the veteran, playoff warriors on the Bruins or the youthful legs of the Leafs?