Leafs & Lightning reconvene for Game 2: Leafs Tailgate
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga1 month ago
After getting kicked in the pills in Game 1, the Leafs will get a chance to atone for themselves tonight at Scotiabank Arena when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 2 of their first round best-of-7 series.
Back on Tuesday night, the Bolts went 4-for-8 on the power play on route to a lopsided 7-3 victory to grab a 1-0 series lead. Since then, predictably, the city of Toronto has been in full-fledged panic mode. And it’s not because of the bipolar weather.
On top of that, on Tuesday afternoon, Michael Bunting was handed a 3-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Erik Cernak in Game 1. The pending UFA won’t be eligible to return to the series until Game 5. Barring something unforeseen, it appears rookie Matthew Knies is on track to make his postseason debut.
Erik Cernak and Mikey Eyssimont will NOT play. Meantime, Victor Hedman DID take the morning skate, but at this time, he’s still considered a GAME TIME DECISION.
TIME: 7 ET (CBC, Sportsnet)
TBL Andrei Vasilevskiy – CONFIRMED (1-0-0, 3.00, 0.903)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – CONFIRMED (0-1-0, 9.00, 0.793)
3 KEYS TO VICTORY:
HAVE A BETTER START
After whatever that was on Monday night, this one’s a given. I mean, it can’t get much worse than Game 1, can it? Before you could grab a beer from the fridge, it was 1-0 Tampa. After that, they never looked back. Furthermore, the Leafs scored first in 15 of their final 20 regular season outings. More of that, please. Not to re-hash the opener but the Leafs looked nervous, anxious, lifeless, and scared to lose for much of the night. If they do that again, it could be another long night for Sheldon Keefe and company. It’s cliché to want to have a good start, but in Toronto’s case, it’s almost necessary to wash away the sorrows from the other night. I’m so curious to see how they come out..honestly.
As a result of the Michael Bunting suspension, it appears Matthew Knies will make his postseason debut. At least to start, the Hobey Baker finalist is expected to skate on the third line alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari. Taking nothing away from the ideology of stacking your top-six, I think it makes more sense for the Leafs to spread their wealth up front. From a matchup point of view, it should in theory cause problems for the Bolts, especially when you factor in the injuries to both Hedman and Cernak. On top of all that, the big boys need to show up. Enough of this learning lesson crap, it’s time to go out there and prove why they’re considered some of the best players on the planet right now.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX
I know it’s a bit out of their control but there’s no way you can be successful consistently giving up eight power plays a night. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Tampa over the past few seasons, it’s that they have a pretty sick power play. Shocker, right? Plain and simple, the Leafs lacked some big-time discipline in Game 1, and ultimately, it ended up costing them. Work smarter, not harder!
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