Can coach Mike Babcock emulate Pat Burns and ’93 Leafs?

BOSTON — Hammered in its first two playoff road games, his stars stymied, fans in a flap and the media sharpening their knives, the coach of the Maple Leafs called a meeting, called out some players and they bounced back to make the conference final.

What worked for Pat Burns 25 years ago this week might not apply to Mike Babcock’s younger Buds. But with dire numbers confronting the 2018 Leafs — 20 points by Boston’s big line and only an 11.3% chance of recovery based on other NHL teams in 0-2 holes, it’s worth noting the 1993 club recovered its regular season mojo just in time, the last Leaf team to rally in that circumstance.

“If we believe we’re beat then we are beat,” the late Burns growled after his group schlepped home from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, soundly beaten 6-3 and 6-2. “One thing we’ve got to do is stop listening to everything.”

Much of that was repeated at the MasterCard Centre on Sunday. The night before, at TD Garden, defenceman Nikita Zaitsev expressed similar thoughts after a 7-3 loss brought the Leafs to a 12-4 goal differential. “This is serious. You’re not allowed to show the other team you’re done.”

Reprising the role of criticized captain Wendel Clark in ‘93 is captain-in-waiting Auston Matthews. He had points in nine straight games at the end of the regular season and seemed ready to take another step in playoffs. So far, he’s shooting blanks, denied by a combination of Patrice Bergeron’s line and the seawall of defenceman Zdeno Chara and goalie Tuukka Rask.

“We need to re-group and take a deep breath,” Matthews said Saturday. “We have to be way more disciplined. They’re getting way too many power plays, we’re not (generating) enough.”

Like the ‘93 Leafs who won the next two games on home ice, beat Detroit in seven and got within a win of the Cup final, Toronto needs to maximize its Air Canada Centre advantage. It won a franchise record 29 at home, including two one-goal decisions over Boston.

“That’s going to mean a lot,” Matthews said. “That starts Monday.”

These Leafs don’t have Doug Gilmour, a rough n’ ready defence or the veteran presence Burns leaned on 25 years ago. But they’d better develop their own chemistry, or be cleaning out their lockers on Friday.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies