TORONTO — Mike Babcock was not sure how much difference his line adjustments made C.J. Uzomah Jersey , but the Toronto coach did notice the Maple Leafs‘ improved approach Saturday night in their 4-3 over the Boston Bruins in Game 5.
“I don’t know how much the line changes paid off, I just know that the guys were engaged,” Babcock said after the game in Boston. “We got off to a really good start and our penalty kill, obviously, was great. We were short-handed six times, (including) a five-on-three. So that was great. Our goaltender was good. We got the early lead and we were able to hang on.”
Boston takes a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series into Game 6 on Monday night in Toronto.
The Bruins can be expected to come out with a different attitude at the Air Canada Centre because their coach, Bruce Cassidy, was not impressed by his team’s effort Saturday when only one more win was needed to clinch the series.
The Bruins started slowly, leaking on defense and in goal as the Maple Leafs led 2-0 in the first period and 4-1 in the second.
“It clearly wasn’t good enough,” Cassidy said after the game. “And then obviously you want a save mixed in with those, and that didn’t happen either. So the stuff we’ve done well lately — defend, get saves — that didn’t happen early on. The start wasn’t good enough.”
When the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 lead at 11:55 of the second period on their 13th shot of the game, Bruins No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask was replaced by Anton Khudobin.
In contrast Joel Bitonio Jersey , Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen had a strong game, stopping 42 shots.
“Freddie was great,” said Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, who had an assist on his return from a three-game suspension. “He was great when we needed him to be huge for us (Saturday). He made some incredible saves and ultimately gave us a chance.”
Rask will be in goal for the Bruins on Monday.
“Tuukka tomorrow, ready to roll,” Cassidy said Sunday. “I thought in Game 3 he was average, and he came back with a very good game in Game 4 in Toronto. So I guess I’ll take the immediate history and it is clear that we need that going in there.
“(Saturday) he was not at his best, so we made a move accordingly. But I don’t think our team was at its best defending in front of him in terms of killing rushes and we allowed them too much space and that goes hand in hand.”
Bruins left winger Brad Marchand said the loss was not all on Rask.
“He’s a competitor and always is,” Marchand said. “He holds himself accountable for (Saturday) night and it wasn’t just on him. We could have been better in front of him ourselves and collectively as a group we need to be better.”
The Maple Leafs got Kadri back after he was suspended for an illegal hit in Game 1. Another center, Leo Komarov, who suffered a lower-body injury, does not appear ready to return.
“When he talked to our guys (training staff) yesterday, he was at 85 percent. Eighty-five percent doesn’t cut it at playoff time Matthias Farley Jersey ,” Babcock said Sunday. “So when you’re ready to play, you’ve got a chance to get in. In my opinion, I haven’t been told at all that he’s available. That’s how it is.”
Babcock said Kadri made an impact in his return.
“I thought Naz made a huge impact,” he said. “He ran over people, he was mean, he made good plays. … I thought Naz was real good in the game.”
The Bruins had center Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup Saturday after he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury for Game 4 on Thursday in Toronto.
Boston defenseman Kevan Miller said the Bruins cannot afford another slow start Monday and must be ready to play for the entire 60 minutes or more.
“Yeah, I think that’s playoff hockey,” Miller said. “That’s kind of the way things go sometimes. (Saturday) night we were pretty close. I think the first period got away from us, but you look at the whole game, after that, we did a pretty good job. It’s just something we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for 60 (Monday).”
With their first-round pick gone after the trade for Blake Griffin, the Detroit Pistons tried to make the best of a tough situation on draft night.
The Pistons selected Bruce Brown of Miami in the second round Thursday and traded for the rights to second-round pick Khyri Thomas of Creighton. Detroit used the No. 42 overall pick on Brown. Thomas went to Philadelphia at No. 38, and he was traded to the Pistons for two future second-round picks.
”Tough as nails Anthony Zettel Jersey , both of them. They can make plays,” said Ed Stefanski, a senior executive for the Pistons. ”Two wings. … That’s what we need. We need some young guys, especially that play that position.”
The Pistons sent their first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade for Griffin this past season, so this was shaping up as an uneventful night for them. They did manage to come away with two players instead of one, but expectations will likely be tempered for these second-round selections.
The 6-foot-5 Brown, who averaged 11.7 points per game over two seasons at Miami, was limited to 19 games in 2017-18 because of a left foot injury. He shot just 27 percent from 3-point range last season.
”I’m good to go – fully cleared,” Brown said. ”All the medicals looked fine at the combine, so yeah, I’m ready to go.”
The 6-foot-3 Thomas averaged 15.1 points last season and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc. He started 96 games in his three seasons at Creighton.
”Shooting the 3s and just defending,” Thomas said. ”I know that’s one way to get on the court, and defending Michael Johnson Jersey , that’s my thing, something I like to do.”
Detroit hired Dwane Casey as its new coach this offseason. There’s still work to be done in reshaping the front office, but Stefanski said this week he would have a lot of influence.
The Pistons have had mixed results with their last three first-round picks – Luke Kennard, Henry Ellenson and Stanley Johnson – and after trading for Griffin, they don’t have a particularly flexible roster. They also parted ways with a couple key perimeter players in that deal, sending Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris to the Clippers, so there’s room for more depth on the wing.
Stefanski said there’s more adrenaline when a team has a first-round pick to make, but the trade with Philadelphia made the night perhaps more intriguing than expected for the Pistons.
”It got exciting when it started to come together,” Stefanski said. ”It looked like we weren’t going to be able to do anything, it looks like the guys were coming off the board, and then it got exciting for us.”
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