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2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning first-round preview

(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay LightningMaple Leafs: 54-21-7, 115 aspectsLightning: 51-23-8, 110 aspectsSeason sequence: TOR 2-2-0; TB 2-1-1Game 1: Monday (7: 30 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Enviornment: ESPN2, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSUN)The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning will meet within the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the foremost time.The Maple Leafs had…

2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning first-round preview
(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning

Maple Leafs: 54-21-7, 115 aspects

Lightning: 51-23-8, 110 aspects

Season sequence: TOR 2-2-0; TB 2-1-1

Game 1: Monday (7: 30 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Enviornment: ESPN2, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSUN)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning will meet within the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the foremost time.

The Maple Leafs had a document-environment abnormal season in 2021-22, environment body of workers marks for wins (54) and aspects (115). They done second within the Atlantic Division, seven aspects within the support of the Florida Panthers, the Presidents’ Trophy winner, and five aspects ahead of the third-residing Lightning.

Toronto has no longer acquired a Stanley Cup Playoff sequence since 2004 and has lost within the foremost around the past five seasons, including being eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in seven games closing season after main 3-1.

[RELATED: Complete Maple Leafs vs. Lightning series coverage]

The Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions and try to alter into the foremost body of workers to defend three straight titles attributable to the New York Islanders acquired four in a row from 1980-84.

Each and each enters the sequence on a hot lope. The Maple Leafs were 7-2-1 of their final 10 games of the abnormal season; the Lightning were 7-3-0.

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe acknowledged he understands how no longer easy their opponent is.

“Or no longer it’s a big downside, it goes with out announcing,” Keefe acknowledged. “Support-to-support champs. They’ve elite gamers in any respect positions, nice depth, nice abilities, obviously, so or no longer it’s a nice downside. After I look at our neighborhood, I reflect the more challenging the better, I reflect that’s what we favor.

“Now we bear absolute respect for the Tampa Bay Lightning in what they’ve accomplished and who they are as a body of workers, yet now we bear nice perception in our possess room. We’re intriguing for a fight.”

Toronto may perhaps perhaps gain forward Michael Bunting support for Game 1. The rookie is making an try to return from an undisclosed hurt and is champing on the bit to be reunited with linemates Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner.

The Lightning, meanwhile, attain into the playoffs barely wholesome and hungry for an different to bear historic past.

“Clearly, there is going to be barely a variety of hype coming into this round,” acknowledged Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who grew up factual north of Toronto, in Unionville. “But this neighborhood is a ancient neighborhood. We know the map to address barely a variety of diversified scenarios attain playoff time.

“We are going to bear to lean on our abilities here.”

Game breakers

Maple Leafs: Matthews led the NHL in targets with 60 and even-strength targets with 44. The center led the Maple Leafs in aspects with 106, 9 bigger than Marner. The 24-year-mature scored seven aspects (three targets, four assists) in three games against the Lightning this season.

Lightning: Stamkos scored a hat trick in a 6-4 victory against the New York Islanders on Friday. The forward’s 33 aspects in April are the most by a Lightning participant in a calendar month and the most by any NHL skater in a month since Mario Lemieux had 34 in December 1995.

Video: TBL@NYI: Stamkos notches 10th profession hat trick

Goaltending

Maple Leafs: Jack Campbell rebounded from a midseason swoon to defend eight of his final 9 starts. The 30-year-mature represented the Maple Leafs on the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas and done 31-9-6 with a 2.64 targets-against moderate, .914 keep share and an NHL profession-excessive five shutouts. Rookie Erik Kallgren become relied upon to aid up after Petr Mrazek become sidelined with a groin hurt closing month, going 8-4-1 with a 3.31 GAA, .888 keep share and one shutout. Mrazek resumed skating closing week but there may perhaps be now not any such thing as a timetable for his return.

Lightning: Despite exhibiting some inconsistency down the stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy tied Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky for many wins within the NHL (39) and had a 2.49 GAA, .916 keep share and two shutouts. He has acquired 34 postseason games within the past two seasons. Broken-down Brian Elliott (11-4-3, 2.43 GAA, .912 keep share, one shutout) is a substantial backup.

Numbers to perceive

Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs bear played 45 postseason games since they closing acquired a sequence. The closing time they evolved within the playoffs become in 2004, after they defeated the Ottawa Senators in seven games within the Jap Conference Quarterfinals.

Lightning: Victor Hedman is plus-14 within the past two postseason runs. The defenseman, who acquired the 2019-20 Conn Smythe Trophy because the most considerable participant of the playoffs, done plus-26 this season.

X-elements

Maple Leafs: Getting Bunting support is key after he led all NHL newbies in aspects eventually of the abnormal season with 63 (23 targets, 40 assists). Factual as crucial is the sandpaper and feistiness he brings to the head line, goading opponents into penalties and increasing residing within the offensive zone for Marner and Matthews.

Lightning: Reduce Paul has been a revelation since being obtained in a alternate with the Senators, scoring 14 aspects (five targets, 9 assists) in 21 games with the Lightning after scoring 18 aspects (11 targets, seven assists) in 59 games with the Senators. The Lightning knew they were getting a physical forward within the March 20 alternate, but Paul has shown the form of secondary scoring that is so very crucial within the playoffs.

Video: WSH@TOR: Bunting scores 2nd of sport, 22nd this season

They acknowledged it

“The foremost ingredient that jumps out is the support-to-support Stanley Cups. They effect the manner to play and to defend within the playoffs and we’re making an try to resolve that out as we jog into this sequence. We know these guys properly. We bear played them twice no longer too long within the past in transient characterize so or no longer it’s as much as us as gamers to make what now we bear to make to gain intriguing.” — Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly

“We ought to all feel magnificent about ourselves … A few weeks within the past we gave ourselves an different again to clinch a residing within the playoffs. Or no longer it’s no longer an straightforward ingredient to make. Our neighborhood takes barely a variety of enjoyment in giving ourselves this different, and now or no longer it’s about taking benefit of it.” — Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh

Will defend if:

Maple Leafs: They can gain out of their very possess map. As daunting a role because it’s miles coping with the powerhouse Lightning within the foremost round, this edition of the Maple Leafs is the most skilled one in a long time. Take under consideration this: 13 gamers establish apart NHL profession highs in aspects this season. But most up-to-date postseason historic past reveals the Maple Leafs bear been unable to compare their success once playoff time comes around. A year within the past, shall we teach, Matthews and Marner, their main scorers, mixed for one aim (by Matthews) in seven games within the sequence against the Canadiens. The skill is there but so is the stress of playoff failures past. Or no longer it’s a mental obstacle they want to beat.

Lightning: They can smother the Maple Leafs’ excessive-octane strength play. Playoff sequence in total are sure by the actual body of workers battles, and this one ought to be no diversified. Toronto had the NHL’s high strength play (27.3 p.c), led by Matthews (16 strength-play targets) and William Nylander (13), so Tampa Bay’s penalty killers shall be establish to the test. The Lightning ranked 11th in penalty fracture (80.6 p.c) and scored seven shorthanded targets this season, five lower than the league-main Maple Leafs.

How they give the influence of being:

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Michael Bunting — Auston Matthews — Mitchell Marner

Alexander KerfootJohn Tavares — William Nylander

Ilya MikheyevDavid KampfPierre Engvall

Wayne SimmondsColin BlackwellJason Spezza

Morgan Rielly — Ilya Lyubushkin

Jake MuzzinTJ Brodie

Assign GiordanoTimothy Liljegren

Jack Campbell

Erik Kallgren

Scratched: Colin Blackwell, Reduce Robertson, Kyle Clifford, Reduce Abruzzese, Justin Holl

Accidents: Rasmus Sandin (knee), Ondrej Kase (concussion), Petr Mrazek (groin)

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Reduce Paul — Brayden PointRoss Colton

Alex KillornAnthony CirelliBrandon Hagel

Pat MaroonPierre-Edouard BellemareCorey Perry

Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevZach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Cal Foote

Accidents: None

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