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Heading into Game 2, Toronto finds itself in the same predicament as Round 1: Leafs Tailgate

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
9 months ago
It’s déjà vu all over again.
Just like Round 1, the Leafs find themselves in the exact same position heading into Game 2 tonight at Scotiabank Arena against the Florida Panthers.
Back on Tuesday night, Matthew Tkachuk notched three assists while Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 stops as the Cats drew first blood in the series with a 4-2 victory.
Toronto, who went 0-for-4 on the power play, fell to 1-3 on home ice this postseason.
As mentioned, the Leafs dropped Game 1 against Tampa as well before responding accordingly in Game 2. We’ll see if history repeats itself tonight.
In terms of lineup changes, Sheldon Keefe divulged after the optional morning skate that Sam Lafferty would be coming in for Zach Aston-Reese.
 
TIME: 7 ET (CBC, Sportsnet)
 
STARTING GOALIES:
FLA Sergei Bobrovsky – CONFIRMED (4-1, 3.58, 0.901)
@
TOR Ilya Samsonov – CONFIRMED (4-3, 3.29, 0.894)
 
PROJECTED LINEUPS:
Knies-Matthews-Nylander
Jarnkrok-Tavares-Marner
Bunting-O’Reilly-Acciari
Kerfoot-Kampf-Lafferty
 
McCabe-Brodie
Rielly-Schenn
Giordano-Liljegren
 
Verhaeghe-Barkov-Duclair
Cousins-Bennett-Tkachuk
Luostarinen-Lundell-Reinhart
White-Staal-Dalpe
 
Forsling-Ekblad
Staal-Montour
Mahura-Gudas
 
3 KEYS TO VICTORY:
PUCK MANAGEMENT
Looking back at the opener, it seemed like every time the Leafs made a mistake, the Panthers were there to capitalize. Simply put, they were sloppy with the puck and Florida made them pay. They need to be purposeful with every decision they make. No more pizzas! When the Leafs are at their best, they’re playing with pace, urgency, and speed, and most importantly, their decision-making is top notch. I can’t say I saw much of that the other night. Having said that, the playoffs are all about adjustments, so we’ll see what kind of response they put forth in this one.
GET THE LEAD
Despite scoring the first goal in four of seven games so far, weirdly, the Leafs have barely played with the lead. Moving forward, that needs to change. In a perfect world, I would love to see them score early and build on that. As we’ve seen throughout this marathon season, when Toronto’s dialled in and playing with the lead, they’re a tough team to beat. It’s time for them to bring their ‘A’ game and find a groove here. For as great as it is to finally be in Round 2, the Leafs have played nowhere close to what they’re fully capable of to-date. I suppose that’s a good thing; there’s tons of room to grow. GET THE LEAD AND PLAY WITH THE LEAD.
DON’T SAG LATE IN PERIODS
Unbelievably the Leafs have already surrendered six goals in these playoffs with three minutes or less remaining in a period. Just think about that. Honestly, it’s staggering. Without question, they’re playing with fire, and if this keeps up, it’ll be curtains for them in a hurry. To be fair, this probably goes hand in hand with puck management and team defence. To this point, this team’s been consistently inconsistent. It’s time to buck that trend tonight!
 
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