Pre-game reading: ‘It’s the Leafs. It’s never easy’

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— Up top, Toronto coach Mike Babcock meets the media ahead of tomorrow’s game against Pittsburgh.

— “It’s the Leafs. It’s never easy.” That’s how the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur summed it up after last night’s loss to Tampa Bay, which kept the Leafs from clinching a playoff spot. With two games left, the Leafs will probably find a way to punch their ticket. Which also means, if they don’t, it will be another major collapse. But as Arthur notes: “This Leafs team feels different, and should be different.” (Toronto Star)

— A Q&A with legendary former coach Scotty Bowman. Given all the injuries we’ve seen lately, this seems a worthwhile quote to pass along: “You don’t want to limp into the first round with injuries. You want to be as fresh as you can be. I always approached it as if you were preparing for a long run. I know if you go into the playoffs healthy, it gives you a lot of confidence.” (USA Today)

— With injuries to Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, the San Jose Sharks might be the definition of limping into the playoffs. And if the Sharks face the Oilers, which they probably will, they’d sure love to have Couture back to cover Connor McDavid. (The Mercury News)

— A Brazilian actress-model has accused Oilers owner Daryl Katz of offering a large sum of money, and also a movie role, in return for sex. (Variety)

— Whether the Lightning make the playoffs or not, Victor Hedman (15G, 55A) has had an excellent season. “I have no idea if he’ll be one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, but in my three or four years with the team, a lot of our success has been predicated on how Victor has played,” said Bolts coach Jon Cooper. “He’s the engine that drives the bus back there. He’s a phenomenal athlete who can do so many things well. When he’s on, it’s really good for us.” (The Hockey News)

Enjoy the game!