Game Six Preview and Game Day Thread: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game 6 (Toronto leads 3-2)
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, TBS, CBC, SN, TVAS
Opponent's Site:Pension Plan Puppets
DraftKings Line: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5
The Lightning went into Toronto on Thursday and did what they needed to do - extend the series. Now they have to do something that they haven't done yet in the opening round - win a home game. If they pull that off, then we're all set for a real treat - Game Seven.
In order to get to keep their season going, they can't think about that, though. They have to go out and focus on winning the first period. Win the first period, move on to winning the second period. Finish that and win the third period. That's it. That's all.
In Game Five, they established the game plan for limiting the Leafs offense, keep it to the perimeter and tie up sticks in front of the net. Oh, and stay out of the penalty box. The second action should be easier as we've already seen penalties decline as the series has continued.
Game One - 19 combined penalties
Game Two - 12 combined penalties
Game Three - 10 combined penalties
Game Four - 10 combined penalties
Game Five - 4 combined penalties
This is not a unique phenomenon as Cam Charron has tracked in a Twitter thread:
The good news is that at 5v5 the Lightning are more than holding their own in this series. They have the edge in shot attempts (272-233), scoring chances (152-111), and a slight edge in expected goals for (50.15%). After getting smoked in high danger chances over the first two games (12-26) the Lightning have swung the tied in the last three (38-28).
If you're a glass half-full fan then you're even more excited about the fact that the Lightning have held their own despite not getting a ton of scoring from their top line. Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov have one goal at 5v5. It's only a matter of time until they find their groove at even strength, and at home, with Coach Cooper getting to control the match-ups, is a good place for that to happen.
On the other side of the ice, the Leafs may be having a bit of an identity crises. While they've had a pretty stable line-up (suspension notwithstanding) it seems some questions have popped up over the last couple of games and there is a chance that perhaps Michael Bunting rotates back in (Sam Lafferty seems to be the likely odd player out) while defenseman Justin Holl is on the hot seat as well:
Ilya Samsonov has made some timely saves (especially in the third periods of Games Three and Four) but overall hasn't had a strong series. If not for the focus on Andrei Vasilevskiy over the first four games, there would be a lot more heat on Samsonov's stat line - .886 SV%, 3.62 GAA, -2.90 GSAx.
Samsonov will get the nod in Game Six, but if he struggles and there is a Game Seven, Sheldon Keefe will be faced with a decision on if he should start rookie Joseph Woll. That should make for a few fun conversations.
Expect the Lightning to come out fast tonight and establish their forecheck early. When they've been able to get in the zone and harass the Leafs' puckcarriers it has led to success. They also need to continue to cause issues in front of Samsonov. Deflections, rebounds, general chaos - that all works to their favor. Last year it took a dirty overtime goal from Brayden Point to keep the season going, can they do it again?
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Michael Eyssimont
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Nick Perbix
Mikhail Sergachev - Darren Raddysh
Ian Cole - Zach Bogosian
Toronto Maple Leafs Potential Lines
Calle Jarnkrok - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Matthew Knies - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - Ryan O'Reilly - Noel Acciari
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kampf - Sam Lafferty (?)
Morgan Rielly - Luke Schenn
TJ Brodie - Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano (?) - Justin Holl (?)