Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/6/13
8 a.m. ET: They’ve been waiting for this in Toronto for almost an entire decade, and the Bruins will get to see firsthand what playoff hockey up there really means. The B’s and Maple Leafs will meet Monday night in Game 3 of their first-round series in the Eastern Conference playoffs series. It will be When the puck drops at Air Canada Centre, it will mark the first playoff game in Toronto since 2004. The home crowd will have plenty to cheer for, too. The hometown Leafs are coming home after evening the series with an impressive Game 2 victory, bouncing back from being torn apart in Game 1. The crowd was expected to be nuts even before Game 2, and now that the Maple Leafs are coming home with a win to their credit, the B’s have to be expecting a very hostile environment at the ACC. “They have good crowds during the regular season and you expect to get ramped up during the playoffs,” Milan Lucic told reporters after practice Sunday in Boston. “They’re the center of the hockey world, so there’s definitely a lot to look forward to going into Toronto for Game 3 and 4.” For the Bruins, it will be about getting back to what made them so successful in a decisive Game 1 win. Boston was sharp in the series opener at both ends of the ice, and they certainly took a step backward in the second game. Bruins coach Claude Julien knows that his team must be much better in Game 3 if they’re going to regain the series lead. “I thought, overall, our game certainly wasn’t as sharp as it was in Game 1,” Julien said Sunday. “I think the mental part of our game, and again, you’ve heard me say that often, just has to be a little sharper in decision making. It was a physical game and I’m not going to criticize the effort, but the mistakes are what I think were the biggest difference, and they played well. We keep saying the same thing over and over; give them credit, they were a different team, they played well and we knew they were going to play better. We didn’t bring our A-game in [Game 2].” Julien and the Bruins will get a little reinforcement for Game 3. Veteran defenseman Andrew Ference, who has 107 playoff games to his name, will be eligible to return to the lineup. He missed Game 2 after being suspended for an elbow in the series opener. His return should stabilize the defense pairs for the Bruins after they had to split up the top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. That should help Julien in his ongoing chess match with Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle, with the latter looking to avoid the potential top pairing of Chara and Seidenberg when putting his top lines out on the ice. The Leafs did a masterful job of that in Game 2, and that was one of the difference-makers. Game 3 in Toronto is set to begin at 7 p.m.
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