Hedman remains a Game-Time Decision as Leafs & Lightning prep for Game 3 in Tampa: Leafs Tailgate
By Nick Alberga1 month ago
The best-of-7 is now down to a best-of-5.
Tied at a game apiece, the Leafs and Lightning are set to hook up tonight at Amalie Arena in Tampa for Game No. 3.
Through two outings, this series has been about as unpredictable as a night out on King Street West in Toronto. In Game 1 on Tuesday night, the Leafs were fed their lunch money as they were utterly dismantled 7-3. But then in Game 2 on Thursday night, Toronto returned the favour with a 7-2 walloping of the Lightning. Yeah, imagine trying to correctly predict what’s going to happen tonight!
Meantime, after missing Game 2, it appears the Lightning may get Victor Hedman back in the lineup. Not only was the future Hall-of-Fame blue liner a full participant in Tampa’s morning skate, but he also took line rushes with Nick Perbix, which is probably a good indication he’ll play. That said, at this point, he’s still considered a game-time decision. Jon Cooper said Hedman will take the warmup and they’ll go from there.
For what it’s worth, Toronto took three of four points (1-0-1) in Tampa in the regular season.
TIME: 7 ET (CBC, Sportsnet)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – CONFIRMED (1-1-0, 4.82, 0.843)
TBL Andrei Vasilevskiy – CONFIRMED (1-1-0, 5.00, 0.853)
3 KEYS TO VICTORY:
HAVE ANOTHER GOOD START
Through two games, the start has been everything for both sides. The sample size is small but the team that has scored first has won both times. For starters, there’s no doubt the Amalie Arena crowd will be buzzing for this one. That said, an early goal for Toronto could go a long way in a putting a stop to that. If there’s one thing the Leafs have shown over the past few years, it’s that they’re not overly fazed by playing in that building —whether it be regular season or postseason, for that matter. They always seem to play Tampa tough in Tampa, which obviously is a good thing. Keep it simple early, and they should be in good standing.
DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE MATCH-UP GAME
Personally, I felt like it bit them in the ass in Game 1. Thursday night was a different story, however. It’s never really been Sheldon Keefe’s M.O., so why start now? The Lightning will have last change tonight and Monday, but in the grand scheme of things, for me, it’s not a big-time issue. At the end of the day, yeah, there’s matchups you would prefer, but I wouldn’t be chasing them. Furthermore, I love the balance of this current lineup. Sheldon Keefe should feel very comfortable with whoever he throws over the boards —within reason. The Leafs have the depth, it’s time to start burying Tampa with it. Let Jon Cooper do what he wants, I wouldn’t get caught up in it.
KEEP POUNDING TAMPA’S D
In Game 2, I thought the Leafs did an excellent job of making life difficult for Tampa’s blue line. They were all over them. Looking ahead to tonight, with or without Victor Hedman, Toronto needs to find a way to keep playing that game. Additionally, everyone and their mother knows Hedman isn’t fully healthy —who knows what his limitations are. At the very least, if he does play, the Leafs need to do their very best to get in his grill and make life difficult for him. Again, easier said than done. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s one of the best in the world. All in all, I think Toronto exposed Tampa’s defence considerably in Game 2, and quite frankly, I expect more of the same tonight.
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