Preview and GDT: Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game #5, Maple Leafs at Boston...

Preview and GDT: Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game #5, Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (7 p.m., CBC)

Do or die. Win or go home. Put up or shut up. [List other cliches here].

The Leafs look to keep things interesting in this series and give us all more Leaf playoff hockey to enjoy by extending the series past five games with a win tonight.

The Leafs have a right to feel a little hard done by with this 1-3 series deficit. Point fingers at certain individuals if it’s your thing, but the fact of the matter is that Toronto, despite looking every bit Boston’s match over the last 3 games, has made the crucial mistakes that are costing them games. Boston almost always has capitalized opportunistically.

The real disappointment would be if the Leafs were to get handily beat in their final game of the season, as it would skew what was otherwise a series full of positives to take forward. Another good showing and another tight game will give Leafs fans reason to hold their head up high regardless of the result. The Leafs do know they’ve won in Boston before under a week ago, they know they’ve played pretty well all things considered, and that should provide reason to believe extending this series is not an insurmountable challenge.

In terms of lineup changes, the awful injury to Mark Fraser likely sees John Michael Liles take his place. Liles probably slots in beside O’Byrne while Franson joins Gardiner. This also provides the opportunity to rejig the powerplay point units. Franson and Phaneuf have struggled to gain the zone and hold the blueline for unit #1 against this Bruins penalty kill, so pairing Gardiner with Phaneuf, and Liles with Franson, may help alleviate those problems.

Go Leafs Go. It ain’t over yet.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
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