Bruins-Maple Leafs Preview

The day after a punishing playoff game that featured 99 hits,

burly Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser was feeling it.

Not that he was complaining. Still it had to hurt a little more,

given that Boston won Monday night’s game 5-2 to regain the upper

hand in the series. The Bruins lead 2-1 going into Game 4 Wednesday

night.

Despite the pain, the 26-year-old Fraser was in a good mood at

Tuesday’s skate.

”Sometimes you might feel a bump or a bruise and you’re not

even sure how you got it,” the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder said after

practice.

After a night when Boston outhit Toronto 51-49, Fraser was asked

if he leapt out of bed Tuesday to head to the rink.

”Actually, today I did,” he said with a grin. ”A big part of

that has been the significant change of the weather, the

sunshine.”

For Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, the summer-like day was a

welcome reminder to his players that all is not lost, despite a

second defeat in three games in their first playoff experience

since 2004.

”I used to say everybody’s in doom and gloom, but the sun did

come up today,” the coach said. ”It was sunny out there.

”That would be the way we’d want to flush things and turn the

page on it. Today’s a new day. Let’s start. Let’s build. Let’s

focus. All those things are things that we try to provide.”

Carlyle and his coaching staff got a helping hand Tuesday when

the clocks in the dressing room malfunctioned. They were six

minutes off, meaning a group of Leafs arrived on the ice late for

practice. They were greeted with some good-natured derision from

teammates who made it on time.

”You can’t change what happened and that can’t really be your

focus on what today brought,” Carlyle said. ”Today was about

flushing what happened last night, recognizing what happened and

then going into the preparation mode of tomorrow.

”Our focus has to be on what we can improve on for tomorrow

night’s game. Can we improve on our turnovers? Can we improve on

the out-and-out turnovers that led to their goals? Can we improve

on our execution with the puck?

”Those are all the little things that we have to focus on and

that’s part of the process versus the result. Any mental coach will

tell you that you can’t labor on the result being the ultimate.

It’s the process that you have to live in your mind that helps you

get ready for it.”

Carlyle has managed to keep his team poised off the ice in the

midst of a playoff-starved, hockey-mad city. On the ice, he is

bidding to mold a squad woefully short on playoff experience – and

one facing a playoff-savvy Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup two

years ago.

In the wake of a loss in which the Leafs were punished for

mistakes, Carlyle looked to the positives as he tried to rebuild

his team’s confidence.

”What did we do well? That’s what we’re trying to pick out,”

Carlyle said. ”We’re trying to focus on the things that we did

well that gave us a chance in the hockey game.”

Carlyle’s morning message to his squad was repeated by his

players later in the day.

”For the most part we played a pretty good game,” said winger

Joffrey Lupul, an influential voice in the locker room. ”We

created a lot of chances. We definitely worked hard.

”We’ve just got to eliminate some of those mistakes.”

That includes losing faceoffs; Carlyle even wondered why his

centers kept getting thrown out of the faceoff circles Monday

night.

Boston coach Claude Julien, whose team excels at faceoffs, knew

exactly what Carlyle was doing.

”When you lobby for something, it’s because you’re looking for

a bit of a break next game,” he said. ”And that’s what Randy is

doing right now.

”It’s going to be interesting to see whether the referees and

the linesmen just do their job next game and not worry about who’s

crying wolf.”

Boston’s Patrice Bergeron led the league in faceoff wins during

the regular season, 62.1 percent. David Krejci ranked 15th.

One person Carlyle doesn’t have to convince of the Leafs’

abilities as a team is Julien.

”We know that we’re in for a dogfight and the next game’s going

to be a challenge,” Julien said. ”They know they can play with us

and they’ve proven it.”