(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning
maple leaves: 54-21-7, 115 points
Lightning: 51-23-8, 110 points
Season series: TOR 2-2-0; terabyte 2-1-1
Game 1: Monday (7:30 PM ET, Scotiabank Arena: ESPN2, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSUN)
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time.
The Maple Leafs had a record regular season in 2021-22, marking the team’s wins (54) and points (115). They finished second in the Atlantic League, seven points behind the Florida Panthers, the President’s Cup winner, and five points ahead of the Lightning third.
Toronto have not won a Stanley Cup playoff series since 2004 and have lost in the first round in the past five seasons, including being eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in seven games last season after leading 3-1.
The Lightning is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and is trying to become the first team to win three consecutive titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1984.
Each enters the chain with a hot line. The Maple Leafs were 7-2-1 in their last 10 regular season games; The Lightning was 7-3-0.
Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said he understands how tough their opponent is.
“It’s an enormous challenge, and it goes without saying,” Keefe said. “The consecutive champions. They have elite players in all positions, great depth, great experience, obviously, so it’s a huge challenge. When I look at our group, I think the more the better, I think that’s what we need.
“We have absolute respect for the Tampa Bay Lightning for what they have accomplished and who they are as a team, yet we have great faith in our own room. We’re ready for battle.”
Toronto can advance Michael Banting Back to the first game. The rookie tries to come back from an undisclosed injury as he defends a bit to be reunited with his linemates Auston Matthews And Mitchell Marner.
Meanwhile, Lightning comes to the playoffs relatively healthy and thirsty for a chance to make history.
“Sure, there will be a lot of noise on this tour,” said Captain Lightning. Stephen Stamkos, who grew up north of Toronto in Unionville. “But this group is a mature group. We know how to deal with a lot of different situations when it comes to the match.
“We’ll have to rely on our experience here.”
maple leaves: Matthews led the NHL in goals with 60 goals and equal power with a score of 44. The quarterback led the Maple Leafs in points with a score of 106, nine points more than Marner. The 24-year-old has scored seven points (three goals and four assists) in three games against Lightning this season.
Lightning: Stamkos scored a hat-trick in the 6-4 win over the New York Islanders on Friday. The striker’s 33 points in April were the highest for a Lightning player in a calendar month and the most by any NHL skater in a month since Mario Lemieux had 34 in December 1995.
maple leaves: Jack Campbell He bounced back from fainting mid-season to win eight of his last nine games. The 30-year-old represented Maple Leafs in the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas and finished 9-9-6 with 2.64 goals for a .914 average saving percentage and five NHL finishes. non-veteran Eric Calgren Relied to back up after Peter Marazek He was sidelined with a thigh injury last month, going 8-4-1 with 3.31 GAA, .888 savings and one closing. Marazeq resumed skating last week but there is no timetable for his return.
Lightning: Although showing some inconsistency below the extension, Andrei Vasilevsky Florida draw Sergey Bobrovsky For most wins in the NHL (39), she has a 2.49 GAA, .916 savings and two closeouts. He’s won 34 games after the season in the past two seasons. veteran Brian Elliot (11-4-3, 2.43 GAA, .912 save ratio, single closure) is a solid backup.
Numbers to know
maple leaves: The Maple Leafs have played 45 games after the season since they won their last series. The last time they advanced in the playoffs was in 2004, when they defeated the Ottawa Senator in seven games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Lightning: Victor Hedman He is plus-14 in his last two post-season runs. The defender, who won the 2019-20 Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Playoffs, finished the Plus-26 this season.
maple leaves: Having the ball is key having led all of the rising NHL players in points during the regular season with 63 (23 goals and 40 assists). Equally important is the sandpaper and the sentiment it brings to the top line, driving opponents to penalties and creating space in the attacking area for Marner and Matthews.
Lightning: Nick Paul has been a revelation since getting a deal with the Senators, scoring 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 21 games for Lightning after scoring 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 59 games with the Senators. . The Lightning knew they were getting ahead physically on their March 20 deal, but Paul showed the kind of secondary scoring that is so vital in the playoffs.
they said that
“The first thing that jumps out is the back-to-back Stanley Cups. They understand how to play and win the playoffs and we’re trying to figure that out as we go into this series. We know these guys really well. We’ve played with them twice recently in a short time so it’s up to us as players to do what has to be done. We have to do to prepare.” – Maple Leafs Defense Morgan Riley
“We should all feel good about ourselves… Two weeks ago we gave ourselves a chance once again to grab a place in the playoffs. It’s not easy. Our group is very proud of giving ourselves this opportunity, and now it’s all about making the most of it.” – Lightning Defense Ryan McDonagh
He will win if:
maple leaves: They can get out of their own way. As difficult as the task the mighty Lightning faces in the first round, this version of Maple Leafs is the most skilled in a long time. Consider this: 13 players have put their NHL highs in points this season. But the post-season record shows that the Maple Leafs weren’t able to match their success once match time came. A year ago, for example, Matthews and Marner, their top scorers, combined with one goal (by Matthews) in seven games in the series against the Canadians. The talent is there but so is the pressure of playoff failures in the past. It is a mental obstacle they have to overcome.
Lightning: They can stifle high-octane Maple Leafs. The Qualifier Series is often determined by special team battles, and these battles shouldn’t be any different. Toronto had the best game in the National Hockey League (27.3 percent), led by Matthews (16 goals in power play) and William Nylander (13), so Tampa Bay’s penalty shootouts will be put to the test. Lightning’s team ranked 11th in penalty kicks (80.6%) and has scored seven goals cut short this season, five less than the league’s leading Maple Leafs.
How does it look:
Predicted Maple Leafs lineup
Michael Banting – Auston Matthews – Mitchell Marner
Alexandre Kervot – John Tavares – William Nylander
Ilya Mikheev – David Kampf – Pierre Engvall
Wayne Simmonds – Colin Blackwell – Jason Spiza
Morgan Riley – Ilya Lyubushkin
Jake Muzin – TJ Brody
Mark Giordano – Timothy Lillegren
scratched: Colin Blackwell and Nick Robertson Kyle CliffordNick Abruzzis Justin Hall
Injuries: Rasmus Sanden (knee), Ondrej Cassie (concussion) Peter Mrazek (groin)
Expected lightning lineup
Ondrej Balat – Stephen Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul – Brayden Point – Ross Colton
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Brandon Hagel
pat maroon – Pierre Edouard Bellemare – Corey Berry
Victor Hedman – Jean Rota
Ryan McDonagh – Eric Cernack
Mikhail Sergechev – Zach Bogosian