Canada

Maple Leafs say they’re ready for the physical demands of playoff hockey

Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry (left) collides with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds during the regular season. The Leafs and Canadiens are meeting in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.

Nastiness, an increase in physical intensity, whatever you want to call what’s going to transpire against the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs are ready for it.

“We’ve got to be physical ourselves,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Playoff hockey demands that and Montreal is right up there with the most physical teams in the NHL.

“We played against them 10 times (in the regular season, going 7-2-1), so it’s not entirely new for us, we know what to expect.

“The playoffs are going to bring out a higher level of physicality in everybody, including ourselves, and we’re more than prepared for that.”

For defenceman Jake Muzzin, the Leafs’ focus on keeping a balance has to be at the fore.

“We need to be more physical, but we have to stay composed and play our game,” Muzzin said. “We can’t get off track and try to run around and do all this crazy stuff. We have to play our game and stick to what works for us.”

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