Stu Cowan: No playoffs, but Canadiens kept fighting to the very end

Stu Cowan: No playoffs, but Canadiens kept fighting to the very end

Stu Cowan: No playoffs, but Canadiens kept fighting to the very end

While the Leafs, who battled back from a 3-1 series deficit just to force Game 7 a year ago, might have an edge in depth up front, the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak triumvirate could sink them on their own. They have also won 20 of their last 28 overall and they are a lights out 51-20 in their last 71 games at TD Garden.

That phrase has haunted Maple Leafs fans since 2013, when the team squandered a three-goal third-period lead in Game 7 and fell to the Bruins in Round 1. The Bruins knocked the Maple Leafs out of the playoffs a year ago, so Matthews and Marner will be out for revenge. We know this team very well, we know how they play.

"We feel that if they have time and space through the neutral zone to run those long stretch passes and attack the blue line, if we can't control that part of the game, and eliminate their D being involved in the rush by killing rushes at the blue line, then we're going to have problems", coach Bruce Cassidy said.

This time around, the Maple Leafs will need to find a way to limit the game Pastrnak does. The club has more firepower compared to a year ago and many of Toronto's key players didn't play well in last season's series while key members of the Bruins could do no wrong.

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"You want players feeling good about their game", Babcock said. It was Toronto's first playoff appearance of the salary cap era and what followed was another lost journey into the wilderness as they rebuilt the roster from the ground up over three straight miserable seasons. "When you're the coach, you should take it on yourself". The Maple Leafs have gone 23-18 on the road and they have averaged 3.41 gpg and have allowed 3.07 gpg in those games. We've got a great team here that's going to work hard and compete. "We have to get it behind them and play down low". "Guys get second or third chances if they prove they can handle that, and it would be no different at [goaltender], that's for sure". The series moves to Toronto for Game 3 (April 15, 7 p.m.) and Game 4 (April 17, 7 p.m.). They won the season series against Toronto, three games to one, and they match up extremely well with the Leafs. "Any time you have a defeat like that, it drives you to be even better each year. You guys love throwing out comparisons and history and all that", Andersen told Sporting News. "I really don't", Cassidy said. "They really can put the puck in the net".

Now 29-years-old with 41 playoff games under his belt, he said he has become more efficient with the mental side of his game. Just looking at things on paper they are far more talented and are coming off a much better season. "Instead of dropping your shoulders, you come in with an upbeat mood and try to lift the spirit of the group". Some of those losses in life - some of those little hardships - are the best thing for you.

No doubt Mike Babcock wanted Saturday night's final regular season game to mean something to the hometown Habs.

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