Maple Leafs push ‘hakuna matata’ mindset as Nylander hits the ice

Kyle Bukauskas and Luke Fox discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs' Game 1 loss to the Boston Bruins and how the team struggled with the absence of William Nylander and self-inflicted disciplinary issues from Max Domi leaving the Maple Leafs a man short.

BOSTON — Can’t score? No sweat.

Can’t keep more than four pucks from flying in your net? No problem.

Can’t keep your composure in the heated battles and both your special teams are in a funk? No worries.

“Almost the hakuna matata kind of motto. You can’t be worried about what happened in the past. You just got to look forward,” Ryan Reaves preached Sunday, flushing Game 1’s haphazard loss and doing his darndest to inject a goldfish memory into his fellow Toronto Maple Leafs.

“We’ve done it all year. We’ve had stretches where we couldn’t win a couple games, we bounced back and strung a lot together. We’ve had games where we got absolutely waxed and came back the next day really strong. So, I’m not worried about the bounce back. It’s going to be there tomorrow. We’ve just got to put it on the ice.”

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It’s the only acceptable mindset for a team that arrived in Boston an underdog but quickly earned Monday’s pressure with a careless performance on Saturday.

And it’s a reason why general manager Brad Treliving went out and signed Reaves (109 playoff games) and rented Stanley Cup winner Joel Edmundson (76 playoff games) heading onto a stage where tightening up or rehashing mistakes is a recipe for a quick out.

Heck, Reaves himself was guilty of an early miscue in Game 1 but rebounded with a positive fourth-line shift and picked up an assist on Toronto’s only goal.

Behind the scenes, he’s been vocal and encouraging during these reset hours before Game 2’s puck drop.

“Yeah, he’s got lots of confidence. He’s been through it a lot. He’s played over 100 playoff games,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Probably even more important than that, he’s really got his own game in order and has a very clear role on the team. Has the ability to speak up and talk to the group. He was a very vocal guy yesterday. 

“We’ve got to be able to bounce back, but at the same time not overreact or get over emotional about one loss.”

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No worries, Simba.

“You can’t sit here and hang your head,” agrees Jake McCabe. “You gotta get ready for the next night. It’s a long series.”

Nylander skates through mysterious injury

William Nylander hit the ice for the first time Sunday since suffering his undisclosed ailment, skating with the rest of Toronto’s Game 1 scratches at Warrior Ice Arena.

The 40-goal star winger’s status for Game 2 remains a mystery, however, as Keefe and Treliving refuse any comment on injury status or lineup changes.

McCabe allowed that Nylander “seemed to be in good spirits today,” as the team held a lengthy meeting reviewing issues it needs to tidy up and emphasizing what they did well, particularly during their third-period push.

“I’m sure he’s disappointed. It’s tough, no matter who you are. Top guy, bottom guy, it doesn’t matter,” Reaves empathized. “When you’re a guy that plays all year, when you’re in the lineup, I think you want to be out there, especially in the playoffs. It’s the best time of the year. I’m sure he’s champing at the bit to get back out there.”

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Nylander contributes to both special teams, which got outscored 2-0 in Game 1, and is critical to transporting the puck through the neutral zone.

While we would agree with Keefe that Nylander’s absence was “not the storyline” for Toronto’s loss, a lack of offensive punch marks the first paragraph.

Dating back to last spring, the Maple Leafs have scored two or fewer goals in eight consecutive playoff games.

The entire premise of dumping tens of millions of dollars into five elite offensive talents is for them to be (a) available and (b) awesome when your season is on the line.

“Willy does so many great things for us,” McCabe said. “He can create by himself, frankly, in seemingly out-of-nothing plays, and he’s a threat all over the ice offensively for us.”

One-Timers: David Kämpf, Toronto’s lone goal-scorer, has a theory as to why the club was so undisciplined in Game 1. “Maybe we want it too much. High emotions,” he says. “But we have to be better tomorrow.”… Reaves took ownership for his over-aggression in the first period that led to John Beecher’s opening strike off an odd-man rush: “I doubled down on a hit there. The D [Edmundson] was pinching. I think I reacted too slowly to what the D was doing and just got caught going for a hit for 2-on-1.”… Bruins coach Jim Montgomery is still contemplating his Game 2 starter. Jeremy Swayman was fantastic, but he and Linus Ullmark have been alternating starts for nearly two months. “They’ve been everything for us,” Charlie McAvoy says. “We have complete faith and trust in whoever’s in net.”

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