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Bruins Aim For 3-1 Series Lead

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins
TORONTO, ON - All of the Bruins hit the ice at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday morning in the lead-up to Game 4 tonight against the Maple Leafs. Boston is looking to extend their series lead to 3-1 before shifting back home for Game 5 on Friday.

During pregame skate, the lineup did not change from the B's 5-2 win over Toronto on Monday, with lines and defensive pairings in tact.

Prior to the B's taking the ice, Toronto held an optional skate, with 11 forwards, three defensemen and two goalies getting in work before tonight. Minute-logger Phil Kessel was one of the forwards to stay off.

The Bruins are expecting a desperate Leafs team who does not want to fall down 3-1 in the series.

"Yeah, but we expect that every game," said defenseman Andrew Ference. "We all know numbers and stuff like that, who's won how many games, but at the end of the day, I think in playoffs, if you go in expecting a different opponent every night, your head's probably not in the right place."

Expecting the same opponent is expecting a desperate opponent every night.

"You have to demand the most from your team and expect the best of their team. It doesn't matter if it's the first or seventh game. I think that's kind of the approach that we take."

"We're focusing on more things, but we've got to be emotionally engaged in the game from the first minute to the last. It's a best of seven, so you've got to play hard every shift no matter what the score is. At the end of the series, that's what's going to matter."

"We know we have to play hard, we know they're going to play hard tonight, so we just have to be ready for it."

The Leafs' locker room isn't taking their "must-win" game for granted.

"I think each single game we're getting better and better adjusting to the tempo and speed of the game and just how exactly things work in the playoffs," said Toronto forward Nazem Kadri. "This is probably our biggest one of the year, as of right now - just got to make sure we come out hard."

A strong, physical start that carries through the entire game, and a relentless attitude, are what will cause a team to come out on top, and both sides are well aware.

"I've watched the playoffs in the past, guys want to win and they're going to do anything they can to do it," said Leafs' defenseman Jake Gardiner, who is likely to appear in just his third NHL postseason game tonight.

"It is a grind, you see the skill players bringing their play up in that department," Coach Julien told media pregame, on the relentless, physical nature of the playoffs. "I can talk here about a couple years ago when we played Tampa Bay, that's where [Steven] Stamkos really gained a lot of respect from me, more than he already had, when he took a puck in the face in Game 7. In our mind there was no way he was coming back and you see him coming back with a full visor."

"He was willing to continue to play and that doesn't have to do with the physical play, but it has to do with the skill players doing whatever it takes to win in the playoffs. You see a lot of guys step up that way, and that's what you need out of your players."

There has been much talk throughout this series about the "experience" factor. When the Bruins entered Game 1, they had 1,273 combined playoff games amongst the group, five each with 100-plus games, and 22 Cup rings. Toronto, meanwhile, entered the series with 206 games of postseason experience.

But, Coach Julien isn't buying it.

"The biggest thing you can look at is Pittsburgh and the Islanders; it's not making a difference, so far after four games. Whether it does, it remains to be seen," Julien explained to reporters. "But, so far, if you're talking about our series, it's been a hard-fought series. Everybody knows last game we took advantage of breakdowns and we were able to capitalize on them, but that doesn't mean that they didn't play well and they didn't have chances."

"Right now, it's about, maybe experience seems to give somebody the advantage, but it also can be turned around and say, well, the pressure is on that team versus the other team that doesn't have any experience, so there's no pressure. It's about how you look at it."

"We just kind of look at it from our end of it as, 'let's just go out there and play.' It doesn't matter what is being perceived."

"At the end of the day, you've got to win the games and you've got to win the series."

Projected Boston Lineup

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Adam McQuaid-Wade Redden

Tuukka Rask

The Leafs held an optional skate Wednesday morning, but held a full practice on Tuesday (teams flip-flopped their approaches, as the Bruins held an optional practice the same day, but held a full skate on Wednesday prior to Game 4). Mike Kostka (broken finger) had been the only Leaf missing and the lineup remained the same personnel from Game 3.

Project Toronto Lineup

Joffrey Lupul-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
James van Riemsdyk-Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin
Ryan Hamilton-Nazem Kadri-Matt Frattin
Leo Komarov-Jay McClement-Colton Orr

Carl Gunnarsson-Dion Phaneuf
Mark Fraser-Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner-Ryan O'Byrne

James Reimer

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