Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game 3 (Series tied at 1)
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUNX, TBS, CBC, TVAS, SN
Opponent’s Site: Pension Plan Puppets
DraftKings Line: Lightning +1.5 O/U 6.5
So we kick off the Tampa portion of the series tonight with Game Three moving to Amalie Arena. With two games out of the way have we really learned anything? Well, we know that both teams have the ability to score and that it’s hard to come back after giving up three goals in the first period.
Coach Cooper expects things to tighten up as the series moves on, but based on the previous nine games these two teams have played over the last two seasons there will still be plenty of goals. Only one out of those nine games (Game Seven last year) has seen fewer than five goals scored between the two teams with seven of them totaling seven or more.
Both coaches would probably like to keep things at 5v5. Sheldon Keefe has to enjoy the fact that the Leafs have pretty much dominated things with a 27-12 edge in high-danger chances. Overall despite conceding a 98-77 edge in shot attempts to Toronto, the Lightning have kept scoring chances a little closer with the Maple Leafs holding a 48-42 advantage.
Meanwhile the Lightning are looking at the Leafs 40% power play (4 for 10) and not loving that number. Giving Toronto 10 chances with an extra skater over two games is not a great way to keep them off of the scoreboard.
The Lightning would also like to get to the point where they can roll their four lines and get into a rhythm. Prior to the series, the fourth line of Tampa Bay might have been perceived as a weakness, but in 9:10 of ice time they are the only line posting positive numbers with a 12-5 edge in shot attempts, 6-3 lead in scoring chances, and 5-3 lead in high-danger chances. They’ve also scored two of the Lightning’s four 5v5 goals.
While no one is expecting the School Bus Line to play 20 minutes, their ability to more than hold their own is one less thing for Coach Cooper to worry about. He has the ability to match his lines a little better now with the last change on face-offs and hopefully he can find ways to free up the top line which has struggled to find their chances over the first two games with only 9 scoring chances and only 2 high-danger ones.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Coach Cooper flip Steven Stamkos and Brandon Hagel now that he is back on home ice. So far both of them haven’t found their offensive touch over the first two games. Stamkos has one assist, but only 5 shot attempts at 5v5. Moving him down to the second line may free up the ice for him at little more. Meanwhile, Hagel, who has been tenacious on defense, will be reunited with the line that helped him get to 30 goals during the regular season.
Of course, the defense for the Lightning is still just a shell of itself. Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak are still game-time decisions and we won’t know more until game time. Even if they participate in the morning skate, it’s no assurance that they will be ready to go for the game. Haydn Fleury and Zach Bogosian were fine in their 12 minutes of ice time in Game Two, but they just don’t have the impact on the game that Hedman and Cernak would.
If the Lightning can get back to controlling the front of the net at each end, they can pull off the win tonight. They fought hard in Game One to get home ice for the series, now they need to fight even harder to keep it.
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Steven Stamkos – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Alex Killorn
Ross Colton – Nick Paul – Tanner Jeannot
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 – Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot – John Tavares – William Nylander
Matthew Knies – Ryan O’Reilly – Noel Accairi
Zach Ashton-Reese – David Kampf – Sam Lafferty
TJ Brodie – Jake McCabe
Morgan Reilly – Luke Schenn
Mark Giordano – Justin Holl