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[Thursday's FTB] Credit Where Credit Is Due

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...And there is a lot owing.

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In Game 1, the Leafs looked like the regular-season Leafs playing the regular season Bruins: they were a team thoroughly out-matched in skill, size (at least among their top forwards), experience, and depth. We could all be thankful that the game didn't end any more lopsided than it did.

Game 2 saw a complete transformation of the Leafs' game. Not only was Randy Carlyle switching his lines so often that Zdeno Chara's caveman brain spend half the time reeling, but the team came back a more energized group, and used their quickness to their advantage. Jake Gardiner was reinserted into the lineup, and the Leafs' breakout became a whole lot less stressful to watch. Oh, and they won!

By Game 3, the Leafs actually looked to be keeping pace with the Bruins. Yes, I know, score effects count for something, but putting up 47 shots in 60 minutes of hockey is a feat for this Leafs team regardless of the scoreboard. Finally, it looked like the Leafs were skating with the Bruins. A win would have been great, but with another home game on the horizon, there was reason for hope.

Yes, last night's Game 4 ended in a loss, but again, the Leafs wound up out-shooting their Bostonian opponents, and really looked hungry for the win. The pace was furious from the get-go, and the Leafs were able to use their speed to their advantage, playing a much more wide-open style than they usually do against the B's. For the first time in quite a long time, this Leafs team looked like they gave Boston all they could handle, and I felt some kind of emotion that I haven't felt in a while. It wasn't quite pride, but it was a lot better than the usual despair and humiliation [5:30].

The Bruins are still far and away the more talented team, but I'm proud of this team's effort, and that includes Carlyle's decisions.Sure, I disagree with many of his lineup choices, but then, no coach is going to please everyone.

So cheers to Randy Carlyle and the Leafs for giving us some fun hockey to watch, and a tip of the hat to the Boston Bruins, who are, let's face it, simply the better team.

It's bee fun, ladies and gents, so let's hope the Leafs can push this series one game further.

On to the links:

Playoffs!!!1 gameday: Game 4 Bruins @ Leafs
Cam Charron with his recap and numbers on the game.

Krejci hat trick has Leafs on the ropes and Bruins riding high
James Mirtle with his recap.

Talkin' faceoffs
Cam Charron breaks down how each Leafs' C has fared.

2013 Calder Cup: Marlies take a lesson from former Leaf Tie Domi
“The one thing (Domi) said you don’t want to take in the playoffs are bad penalties. He said ‘I only took one bad penalty and it was an elbowing penalty.’ He didn’t say who it was against but I guess he was referring to (Niedermeyer),” Eakins said. From Kyle Cicerella.

Watch actress Elisha Cuthbert roll her eyes at James Reimer’s wife
But not really. From Justin Bourne at BHS.

Backhand Shelf Podcast
The latest.

The Penguins are starting Tomas Vokoun Thursday, which means their goalie situation just got weird
Now they have a chance to win.