Preview: Game #30 Lightning @ Leafs - Guy's questionable coaching

Cam Charron
March 20 2013 03:05PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost five straight games. 

Qualifier: The Toronto Maple Leafs last five games have all come against playoff teams.

Addendum: If the Toronto Maple Leafs are a playoff team, they'll have to beat playoff opponents. 

Tonight they play Tampa Bay, a team outside of playoff position. The team has had a tough schedule of late, facing Boston, Pittsburgh twice and Winnipeg twice, and coming back from two 4-1 deficits to boot to force OTs.

Last time the Leafs faced the Bolts, they got off to a slow start, and Ben Scrivens allowed two sloppy ones in a 4-2 loss. You can read the recap from that game here.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are many things. They are an enigma, a team built on young stars, but frequently change their coaching tactics and waive useful players. Think of them like the Toronto Maple Leafs in a slightly deeper shade of blue and with a better minor-league system.

Broadcast Info:

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EDT

TV: TSN

Numbers Game:

  Tampa Bay Toronto
Corsi Tied % 45.1% (25th) 44.9% (26th)
5v5 GF/GA Ratio 1.15 (9th) 1.00 (13th)
Team Shooting % 10.61% 10.21%
Team Save % 0.917 0.920
Team PDO 1.023 1.023

Special Teams:

  Tampa Bay Toronto
PP Success 19.6% (12th) 17.1% (19th)
5v4 GF/60 5.63 (17th) 5.68 (16th)
5v4 SF/60 33.7 (30th) 48.7 (13th)
PK Success 83.2% (11th) 84.8 (6th)
4v5 GA/60 4.83 (5th) 5.10 (6th)
4v5 SA/60 49.5 (20th) 44.0 (9th)

Numbers via Hockey Analysis and NHL.com

Setup: 

Here's the thing I don't get… what's happened to Tampa's powerplay? I watched their game against Philadelphia on Monday because I noticed that they have the lowest shot rate in the NHL with the man advantage, which is baffling considering the young talent they have.

It seems like the Bolts try too hard to force the perfect shot. I haven't found an analysis really deep on the issue (if you know a good Bolts blogger who has looked at their PP from an Xs and Os perspective, I'm all ears) but I liked this line on Raw Charge comparing their unit to a "bubble hockey game". There's little movement, and also difficulty to gain the zone effectively.

At even strength, Tampa are just as bad as the Leafs at controlling play, which is odd considering they were the third best team in the NHL in Fenwick Close in the 2011 season, when they also caught lightning in a bottle with a hot Dwayne Roloson and came to within one game of the Finals. Since then, they've changed their systems and the results aren't positive.

Bolts blogger Kyle Alexander summarized some of the issue:

Guy Boucher gets some credit for being a pretty good coach, but I think he accomplishes "less" with "more" in his lineup than most other coaches. Coming into the season I saw the Bolts as an absolute force on the back-end with the addition of Matt Carle and a healthy Sami Salo to a group that included the monstrous Victor Hedman. While the loss of Carle is just one of the things that's stung the Philly Flyers this season, the Bolts aren't restricting shots any better without Carle in the lineup.

You should play the strategy that helps you inflate possession metrics. As with the powerplay, if you sit around waiting for the perfect shot, it ain't going to come.

Here were the lines last game. Mark Masters tweeted that Benoit Pouliot isn't back yet, and they will start Mathieu Garon, but the bottom six is a mixed and matched most nights:

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Cory Conacher - Tom Pyatt - Alex Killorn
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Dana Tyrell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - BJ Crombeen

Sami Salo - Victor Hedman
Eric Brewer - Matt Carle
Keith Aulie - Radko Gudas

Mathieu Garon
Anders Lindback

I've really liked what I've seen out of Alex Killorn this year, but confused as to why the team waived Adam Hall, who was an effective defensive winger for them. The usage chart looks pretty bleak, because the Bolts' best forwards have been seeing the highest Corsi Rel QoC as well, which sort of defeats the purpose of using a third line in heavy zone-matching situations to shelter your forwards. If you're running three centremen, you can at least give one line easy minutes, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

On "D", the saving grace is the Victor Hedman, Sami Salo grouping who play the tough minutes and get the best results. Other than that it's a bit of a firedrill most nights in the Bolts end and they give up a lot of shots.

Guy Boucher isn't huge on player match ups, preferring a zone match but it doesn't seem like many coaches have had issues getting their top guys out against Steven Stamkos. The Leafs should be able to get new top pairing Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson lots of minutes against young Stamkos.

Interested to see where Jake Gardiner ends up? Looks like he'll be next to Liles:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Matt Frattin
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nik Kulemin
Leo Komarov - Jay McClement - Colton Orr

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - John-Michael Liles
Mark Fraser - Cody Franson

James Reimer
Ben Scrivens

Masters says Reimer gets the start. Randy Carlyle has been flipping guys around in practice all week, but I think he'll stick with the units that started against the Jets. There's no other way to otherwise have Lupul-Kadri-Frattin together and they looked real dangerous on Saturday. (via Mirtle, Liles will play on the right side)

I'll have a full recap within 45 minutes to an hour of the game ending here at Leafs Nation.

Game Day Notes:

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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