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BOSTON, Mass. – Mike Babcock chose cliff diving of all things to compare the Game 7 adrenaline he and his Maple Leafs must channel Tuesday night.
“We were talking about this yesterday,” Babcock said of a chat he had en route here with club president and fellow Stanley Cup winner Brendan Shanahan. “Shanny was watching something about guys climbing rocks and then diving off into the water. Why do you think people do that? They do it to get the same feeling you get here today.
“When you’re done in this sport, you’re going to search out things to get that feeling. There’s no better feeling. Now you have to deliver. So you have to enjoy the process, enjoy the atmosphere. When the puck is dropped, you’ve got to look the guy in the eye, and you’ve got to beat him.”
The Leafs are trying to avoid another fall at TD Garden, from having the series lead to losing a second straight first-round deciding game and third here in six years for a few others in the organization.
The Leafs held a full skate, minus winger Zach Hyman, who is banged up but will play. They did one last set of special teams drills, to hone a power play and penalty kill that have hurt them at times this series. There is speculation John Tavares will take some defensive draws tonight if the Leafs are short-handed.
Centre Auston Matthews has become a force for the Leafs in the series with five of the club’s 16 goals
“We’ve been playing well over the course of the last games.” Matthew said. “We just want to continue, play our game, play fast, make plays with one another, support each other, break out clean and do our best to play in the offensive zone.
“I don’t think the mentality or anything changes. It’s win or go home. Special teams has played a pretty big part, especially over the last couple games. We want to make sure we’re doing our part.”
Babcock wanted to stick to business, refusing to discuss allegations the Bruins made to NHL series supervisor Mike Murphy that his players had come close to slew-footing the Bruins in the series.
Coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team gathered across town, says no changes are planned from Game 6.
While Boston has home ice and plenty of Game 7 experience in players such as warhorse defenceman Zdeno Chara, Toronto has added its own Stanley Cup winner in Jake Muzzin and a number of Marlies who won the Calder Cup last year. Winger Andreas Johnsson has been through a Swedish Hockey League title and the Calder.
“The more experience you get, the more you’re used to the feeling,” Johnsson said. “I’ve been in a couple of Game 7s. There is some nerves and excitement with two teams that have been battling, so you just stick with what you know.
“It’s not a scary nervous, you’re excited because something big is going to happen. The more I play in those games the more I enjoy it.”
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