Alright ladies and gentlemen, it’s down to this. The stakes are high as the Leafs have lost their home-ice advantage after a 5-2 Game 3 loss, and if the they lose tonight we might not see them on ACC ice until next season.

As I’m writing this, I’m currently watching the Vancouver / San Jose game – it’s the 3rd period and the Canucks have just taken a one-goal lead.  As much as I dislike the organization and the fan-base that cheers for them, it’s impressive how Vancouver continues to throw themselves with abandon in front of pucks, along the boards, and sacrificing their body to make a play.  I just hope that the Leafs have that sense of desperation for the rest of the series against Boston.

But… as Bieska and Sedin just showed, the Leafs need to be careful as well.

For the Leafs to win, they need to do the following:

–          Cut down the turnovers – there’s nothing more aggravating than watching skilled players make poor decisions with the puck.

–          Be aggressive on the forecheck – you can tell that Chara is starting to feel the effects of the Leafs’ relentless physical barrage of solid body checks and subtle stick work.   Take this series to the seventh game and anything can happen.

–          Play like they did in the 3rd period on Monday night.  Aggressive, dominant, proactive.

–          Play the hell out of Kessel and make Chara skate – if you’re going to pound Chara into submission, make him skate, too.  That kind of physical wear and tear will inevitably slow him down and maybe in the same series.

I thought Gardiner was great on Monday night.  Jittery at times, but some of the plays he made were of the highlight variety.  That skating ability, man…

He’s gonna be a good one.  I hope he’s got a steep learning curve because the Leafs are going to need him at the top of his game to pull this series out.  We need more of his dynamic from the back-end.

Alright, time for the morning links: