Why Leafs coach Mike Babcock isn’t concerned about 'hostile environment' in Boston

By WEEI 93.7

The Bruins went 3-1 at home in their Eastern Conference first round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and won both games played between the teams at TD Garden this season.

The Maple Leafs certainly looked a bit rattled when they wasted a 4-3 third-period lead in Game 7 at the Garden and fell 7-4 last year. And no one will ever forget Toronto’s epic collapse after having a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7 in 2013, a game the Bruins won 5-4 in overtime.

But Toronto coach Mike Babcock is trying to downplay the role the Garden crowd will play in the upcoming first round series, which starts Thursday night in Boston because the Bruins beat out Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division during the regular season.

"As much as we say it's a hostile environment, I've never seen a fan play yet. It’s going to be on the ice, amongst two teams. They know what we’re about and we know what they’re about,” Babcock told the media in Toronto on Monday.

Babcock on heading into Boston: "As much as we say it’s a hostile environment, I’ve never seen a fan play yet. It’s going to be on the ice, for sure. It’s going to amongst two teams. They know what we’re about and we know what they’re about." #Leafs

— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) April 8, 2019

Babcock also brushed off questions about the Bruins’ recent dominance of the Maple Leafs, especially last year’s series victory.

"Last year is last year,” he said. “There is no sense spending any time on that. They have a different team, we have a different team."

The Maple Leafs, who were fourth in the NHL in goals scored per game and eighth in power-play efficiency (21.8 percent), play a run-and-gun style that may not prove conducive to the playoffs. That’s something Babcock has tried to stress to his players days before the start of the rematch with Boston.

"You have to understand what it'll take to be successful,” he said. “Our whole team, early in the season when we’re racing around, it’s fun to watch with tons of room, the sweaters are flapping, it feels good ... it’s just not real. The real world’s coming right away.”

And that real world will include plenty of rabid Bruins fans that will undoubtedly have an effect, even if it’s a small one, on the results, otherwise no one would care about home-ice advantage ever.



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