The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to follow the trend of the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets by taking a 2-0 series lead, but have to expect a more energetic opponent in the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the best-of-seven first round series at TD Garden on Saturday.
The Bruins are expected to change their approach after the Leafs used speed, skill and stretch passes to take the series lead, and will likely try to step up their forechecking and hitting, but head coach Mike Babcock is also looking for his club to improve on their Game 1 performance.
“We've made our adjustments, we've looked – you've got lots of time, you've got one team – you go through it both individually for players and collectively as a group and see what you can improve on.” Babcock said. “There's lots of things in the last game that we need to upgrade on. We're focused on that and will get ready for tonight.”
Boston will make at least one lineup change, as head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated that veteran David Backes will play in Game 2. Jake DeBrusk did not practice on Wednesday after getting banged around on Thursday, but the sophomore winger took the morning skate on Saturday and will be a game-time decision.
The Leafs will not make any lineup changes, including goalie Garret Sparks, who will be back up starter Frederik Andersen with Michael Hutchinson still in Toronto after the birth of his first child.
Columbus and St. Louis have surprised many by winning the first two games on the road to take a commanding lead in their first-round series against Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. Especially in the Blue Jackets – Lightning series, Tampa Bay appeared to crumble under the pressure of expectation once Columbus took an early lead on Friday.
“I don't get that surprised at playoff time. As the league has got tighter and tighter, the separation between top and bottom is almost nothing.” Babcock said. “We know every series is going to be ultra-competitive. Now, maybe in the end, when you look at it and it says 4-0 or 4-1, you didn't think it was competitive, but usually every game is ultra-competitive. Columbus has got a good hockey club, they acquired a lot at the deadline and they had a good hockey club before. It looks like it's shaping up to be a good series.”
Toronto should expect Boston to step up their checking and physical play early in the game, but if they can maintain their composure as they did in Game 1 and get good goaltending from Andersen, the Leafs could be in a good position to take advantage of the Bruins chance growing frustrations on Saturday
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