Travis Green lived the mayhem of the playoffs as a player in Toronto and as a head coach in Vancouver.
The noise is real. That can be a positive when you’re rolling. But it can backfire when things go sideways.
“From a coaching standpoint, when you’re in the playoffs, it’s really important, I find, to know where your team is at and decide where your team is at,” Green told The Athletic on Friday. “Structurally, both teams are going to make adjustments from game to game. But maybe in this case, psychologically being down 2-0 is not what the Leafs expected.
“Especially when you’re in a market like Toronto, there’s going to be a lot of noise around that.”
Oh, just a bit.
Green remembers it from playing on the Leafs in 2001-02, when they reached the Eastern Conference final.
“Your players feel it. They want to win. They know the importance of it,” Green said. “The mental side of it is so important in the playoffs. Inspiring a group to feel good about themselves is huge.”
It’s a balancing act. If you’re Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, there’s the tactical side, but there’s also the mental side — making sure the team has the right frame of mind entering Game 3 on Sunday night in Sunrise, Florida.
“Structurally, there’s always going to be small tweaks you’re working on from game to game, and there’s going to be areas from a coaching standpoint where you know your team needs to get better,” Green said. “It’s not just the losing team that does that but the winning team as well.
“There are probably a few areas that Toronto knows it has to be better in. But then there’s the psychological side of it, which maybe for me might be just as important or more important as this time of year and in this situation when you lose those two first two games at home, which really you never imagined that happening.”
Long-time coach Paul MacLean, who spent two years as an adviser to Keefe and the Leafs coaching staff, shared this when asked what he has seen so far in Round 2: “They haven’t gotten to their game enough and when they do, they haven’t scored. (Sergei Bobrovksy) has been very good. All starts with (defensive-zone) exits — Leafs being second on too many dumped pucks. (The) result is too much time defending and (Florida) gets to their game and have scored.”
Former Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau sees a Leafs team that so far has been pulled into Panthers-style games.
“Florida is forcing the Leafs to play a physical game, and they don’t want to play a physical game,” Boudreau said Friday. “They just want to go up and down the ice and score. So they’re playing out of their comfort zone, I think, and that’s right into Florida’s comfort zone.”
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