Game Two Preview and Game Day Thread: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs
Lightning look to head back to Tampa up 2-0.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game 2 (Lightning lead, 1-0)
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, ESPN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Opponent's Site: Pension Plan Puppets
DraftKings Line: Lightning +1.5 (O/U 6.5)
The Tampa Bay Lightning started this series with one goal, win at least one of the first two games in Toronto. They accomplished that with their 7-3 victory in Game One. Now, in the words of their head coach Jon Cooper, it's time to get "greedy".
Despite the lopsided nature of the score in the opening game, all the the Tampa Bay Lightning really did was avoid a sweep. Yes, they made the pathway to winning the series a little easier for themselves, but the overall nature of things hasn't changed. No one expected either side to finish this off in a sweep, so even Toronto was prepared to lose at least one game. They're not going to panic just because they're down early in the series. Writing off a team with as much talent as they have after one loss would be a mistake. Their intention now is to even the series and then take one of two in Tampa to regain the home ice advantage.
So, the Lightning can't rest on their victory. They have to go out and do the same thing they did in Game One - seize momentum early and capitalize on special teams. Expect the Leafs to push back, though. Tampa Bay can't expect or rely on Toronto playing as poorly as they did in Tuesday's game. By their own admission the home team didn't play the style of game that they had all season, especially in the first period where the Lightning dominated the front of the net at both ends of the ice.
Expect a more focused approach to controlling the puck in their own zone by the Leafs. In their haste to kickstart their offense early, they were a little impatient with the puck and the Lightning forecheckers (especially Corey Perry) made them pay for their inattention to detail. That likely won't be the case tonight so the Bolts will have to work even harder to create those turnovers down low and disrupt the breakout game.
Tampa Bay is also going to be dealing with some line-up issues that are going to be tough to overcome. Erik Cernak and Michael Eyssimont are both already out for the game. Victor Hedman and Tanner Jeannot are game-time decisions and if they do play, are likely to be nowhere near their peak effectiveness. As always, the next player up will have to make an impact. Zach Bogosian is likely to return to the line-up in Cernak's spot and is a fairly decent replacement. He can block shots and play physically, two of the biggest attributes Cernak has on the team.
Jeannot has a more physical presence than Eyssimont, but the impact of the lower-body injury he suffered at the end of the regular season is unknown. The big blow would be if Hedman isn't able to go. The Lightning would then have to lean even more heavily on Mikhail Sergachev and Ian Cole at even strength, with Darren Raddysh taking Hedman's spot on special teams. Raddysh, a rookie, was thrust into a more enhanced role in Game One and it took a few shifts for him to adjust, especially on the second power play unit.
The first meeting between these two teams this postseason was an awkward one, with the second period filled up mostly with special teams play. That makes it hard to get a read on the 5v5 play, especially considering the lopsided score by the third period. Expect a little more discipline from both sides tonight, especially if the refs make a few borderline calls early in the game.
As for the Leafs, they will be without Michael Bunting for the next three games as he was suspended for his hit on Cernak. In his absence, Calle Jarnkrok will likely move back to the top line Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. During the regular season that line spent 84:40 of ice time together and produced an expected goals percentage of 58.96% and had 63.41% of the high-danger chances when they were on the ice together.
Rookie Matthew Knies, who the Lightning saw in their last regular season meeting against Toronto, will draw in on the third line. It looks like Ryan O'Reilly may drop down to the third line as well.
Coach Sheldon Keefe told the media that Ilya Samsonov will get the start in net after a shaky Game One. For his part, Samsonov admitted he didn't play well after the game and refused to blame his performance on bad bounces. How long his leash is in the game is up for question though. If the Lightning can get a couple of early ones past him, Keefe may be left with no choice but to turn to Joseph Woll again.
Both teams have a goal tonight, the Lightning want to put a stranglehold on the series, and the Leafs want to even things out. That should make for a fun night of hockey.
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 (?)
Lines assumed based on injuries. Should Hedman not be able to go, Haydn Fleury probably slots in with Bogosian and Cole partners with Perbix. It is possible that if Jeannot is not ready to go and Hedman can play, the Lightning go 11/7.
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
Lines based on Wednesday's practice.