(Toronto) Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is well aware of the opportunity facing the Toronto club.
On Thursday at Scotiabank Arena, the Leafs will have the chance to oust the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the first round.
Having not won a series since 2004, Toronto has pushed the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup champions up against the wall.
Tampa Bay was also a finalist last year.
“It’s cliché, but don’t get too excited or hang your head too much. We played well, but the job is not done,” said Tavares, who is from Mississauga.
“The last victory is the hardest to get. It’s about staying true to who we are. »
The Maple Leafs are undefeated since being corrected 7-3 in the series curtain raiser, in front of their fans.
The last two wins came in overtime at Tampa.
“We have to play 60 minutes the right way,” Ryan O’Reilly said. If we impose the rhythm as we know how to do, our chances of success become even better. »
Two years ago, in the first round, the Leafs lost the first game before going on to win three times against the Montreal Canadiens. However, it was CH who won the next three matches.
The formation has changed a lot, but the bad memory has remained, said coach Sheldon Keefe.
“A lot of guys are still there and they’ve been through a lot together,” Keefe said. It’s real and it’s felt, and I think it makes you grow. It brings motivation and focus. »