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"Poking the Bear"

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins – Maple Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle said following his team’s 2-1 win over the Bruins in Game 5 that they may have “poked” Boston a little bit; that their win may give the Bruins some more spark and extra focus in Game 6 on Sunday night.

This morning, after his team’s pregame skate, Carlyle hadn’t changed his mind.

“We're not going to expect anything other than Boston's best,” said the Leafs head coach. “I'm sure it will come early and it will come often and we have to be able to at least put ourselves in a situation where we can control the puck and do a lot of attacking ourselves. We have to establish our forechecking as quickly as possible.”

Carlyle expects the same Bruins team he saw in Game 3 at Air Canada Centre, that came out determined after a loss in Game 2 in Boston. The Maple Leafs know they will have to match the Bruins’ intensity.

“I expect a desperate hockey team,” said Carlyle of the Bruins. “It was very evident in Game 3 here. They came out and established that forechecking game, that pack mentality when they're hard on the puck. I would expect that to be their template tonight.

“We have to find a way to establish our game and see where that takes us. We've been a team that's found ways to get that type of hockey going. We have to move the puck effectively through neutral ice and get our forechecking game going. It's easier said than done.

“Obviously they have defensive scheme that they like that prevents us from doing that.”

Boston outshot Toronto 19-4 in the third period of Game 5, and over the past two days, the Bruins have talked about trying to use that as a positive heading into Game 6. The Leafs, as a result, want to play well from the jump.

“I think both teams would probably say the same thing, that you want to start well,” said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. “Obviously we started well last game. That was a big key to just setting the pace of the game for us. We know how we have to play, we know the style that we want to play. Obviously getting off to a good start is a key.”

Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk doesn’t think there will be much carry over from what happened in Game 5, and his team expects their toughest challenge yet tonight.

“I don't necessarily believe in momentum,” he said. “I think every game is so much different, different bounces, different things happen. You just have to put yourself in position every night with the way you play. I don't think there's much momentum in the playoffs.”

Once again, Toronto will have the electric Air Canada Centre on their side. But the Bruins have won both home games so far at the ACC this series.

"It's a great place to play hockey. We want to come out and play a good, solid road game," said Bruins center Chris Kelly. "We know their fans are going to be loud and behind them. We just want to come out and have a good start."

A quick start is key - but carrying that through to the finish will be the focus.

"Everybody's pretty comfortable and confident. We're ready to go," said defenseman Matt Bartkowski. "If we carry what we started in the third period, we should be in pretty good shape."

While the Leafs expect the Bruins to come out desperate, in the end they are the team that is facing elimination. They will have to compete for their postseason lives.

“I think we know, obviously, what's at stake,” said van Riemsdyk. “It's going to take a big effort out of us, we've got to play desperate hockey. We're going to have to do a lot of good things out there.”

On the other side, the Black & Gold, "poked" from Friday night's loss, are focusing on bringing their own all-or-nothing approach to tonight.

"We said it until we were blue in the face last game: They're going to come out and be the desperate team," said Kelly. "We need to focus on ourselves. We're a good hockey team when we're playing well. That's the main focus is not how they're going to come out, it's how we're going to come out."

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