Step one, take a day off.
Step two, stay off the ice.
That’s the early formula for the Maple Leafs after clinching a playoff berth Saturday night in Ottawa, one that probably makes a lot of sense.
For starters, the club has played 45 games in 91 days, a grinding pace, one shared by every other NHL club. So with no games until Wednesday when they face the Lightning, some time off skates makes sense.
Second, while the Leafs don’t have any injuries per se, at least none keeping players out of the lineup, it’s a chance to do a little healing.
Finally, this is a team that the closer it got to the playoffs, the tighter it seemed to grip the sticks, and the more it seemed to play a retreat, rope-a-dope style game. Getting away from the rink for a couple of days may ease the tension, although you can bet it will return later this week and certainly next week when the playoffs begin.
So head coach Randy Carlyle has ordered off-ice workouts only today, with media availability later this morning. Carlyle has clearly already begun calibrating his approach for the post-season, and he can do so as Leaf coach without having to consider the extensive travel schedule he had to deal with when he coached the Anaheim Ducks.