TORONTO -- Joe Colborne proved he could keep a secret, just not long enough.
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle didn't want the 23-year-old forward to spill the beans on the behind-the-scenes misdirection just yet. But Colborne did after his team's dramatic 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins to force a seventh and deciding game on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports, 7 p.m. ET).
"He has to learn to shut his you-know-what," Carlyle said in his post-game remarks.
Come on Randy. Don't be too hard on the kid. He was over-the-moon that he finally made his Stanley Cup playoff debut and that he was part of the biggest Maple Leafs win in nine seasons.
The kid simply was asked when he found out he would play on Sunday evening. He cautioned a few of us reporters around him that "you guys aren't going to like this," and then went on to reveal he knew he would play in Game 6 immediately after the Maple Leafs victory in Boston two nights earlier.
Tyler Bozak had suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury (some believe it was the same shoulder he injured late in the regular season) in Game 5 and would not be able to answer the bell on Sunday.
Colborne was told he could inform his parents, but nobody else. Bozak was sent out for the pre-game warm-up in an attempt to disguise the injury. "I guess, it was mind games," Colborne said.
Even Air Canada Centre public address announcer Andy Frost wasn't informed about the lineup change. He announced Colborne as one of Toronto's scratched players.
"I'm sure I have a lot of texts from friends saying 'why didn't you tell me?'" said Colborne, who was acquired in the Tomas Kaberle trade to the Bruins a couple years ago.
"I've heard some things that the ACC isn't the loudest building, but I certainly felt the passion. I'm lucky I didn't get my first shift until [4:18] into the game.
"It was like my first NHL game, when I was a basket case for the first period. Every shift is do or die. You feel if you don't get the puck out or make the right play that you let your teammates down."
Colborne was the 14th Toronto player to make his Stanley Cup debut in this series. He wound up playing 15 minutes and five seconds. He didn't win too many faceoffs - just four of 13 - but not many Maple Leafs have in this series.
He also didn't make any costly mistakes. That's all Carlyle asks of his kids.
"We ask them not to be noticed for their mistakes," Carlyle said.
Leafs almost flawless
Not many Maple Leafs made mistakes in Game 6. They were especially good in their defensive zone coverage. Captain Dion Phaneuf made up for his Game 4 gaffe with a redirection goal off a Nazem Kadri shot to break the ice early in the third period. Toronto goalie James Reimer was brilliant for the second successive game.
But it was hard not to notice the way the kids came through for the Maple Leafs. A year ago, with his team done for the season, Carlyle watched the Toronto Marlies in their march to the AHL Calder Cup final. Then with the lockout, he again didn't miss too many Marlies outings.
Jake Gardiner already had a full NHL season under him and there was little doubt that he would play a big role in the Maple Leafs future. Carlyle also liked what he saw in Colborne, Kadri and Matt Frattin.
"The rest was up to them," Carlyle said.It was nice that Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins was among the 19,591 inside the ACC to watch his kids contribute the way they did.
"They care for one another," Carlyle said. "They genuinely care. When you have that emotion, they're a big family in there right now."
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