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‘Cool to be a Leafs Fan Right Now’

At times in the past few years, some Maple Leafs didn’t want to turn their phones or computers on to find out how badly they were getting bashed.

The franchise deserved much of the abuse as it stumbled along with three years out of the playoffs and then sinking to 30th at the end of last year. Connor Carrick said a lot has changed this season and Monday’s 4-2 over Boston might get that bandwagon a bit more full.

“The buzz in town — it has to be cool to be a Leafs fan right now,” Carrick said in the jubilant Leaf dressing room. “I get texts all the time from friends of mine, ex-players, old coaches from my youth organization, cousins, uncles, aunts saying, ‘I love watching you guys play, you’re a blast, you’re a fun team, a fun story to follow.’

“It seems we’re trying to do things the right way and people will support you when you’re doing that.”

Rather than accept being in the wild-card race as enough excitement for this season, the Leafs could be third-place contenders. That’s what Monday was all about.

“We wanted to come in, set the tone, send a message that we want to climb right to the top and be there for a while,” Carrick said. “We want to be high-skill level, high energy, play an entertaining game and now that we get through the stretch, you want to play a winning brand and that’s what we’re working for. The crowd was really dialed-in tonight. You certainly do know when it’s quiet (at the ACC). That’s louder to us than the noise.”

Carrick was coming back from a month off with an upper-body injury and saw time with a lot of different partners on Monday. He was in the thick of some chippy plays with the Bruins.

“It was fun on my end,” Carrick said. “But (the five regulars) are the guys who are rolling. That was the plan from the coaching staff tonight.”

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