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Game preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Leafs make stop #2 on their spring break road trip.

Remember last April when we injured your starter right before the playoffs?
Remember last April when we injured your starter right before the playoffs?
Mike Carlson/Getty Images

7 years ago this week I was basking in the sunny skies of Tampa Bay myself. The Leafs were in town and the Jays were starting up spring training up the coast from me and I....went to neither of those things stupidly. I did go to a pelican sanctuary and those guys are weird. Also I went to Disney World where they recognized my talents and cast me as "fat guy" in the Indiana Jones show.

ij

Award winning hand raising, let me tell you

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning
26-33-5               - 39-20-6
7:30PM - Sportsnet Ontario / TVA - TSN1050
SBN: Raw Charge

Leafs Last Game: On Tuesday night the Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers after starting with Luongo, then Montoya, then maybe the goalie coach? but no back to Luongo and now both of those goalies are injured. Can they go 4-4 on destroying goalies this trip? Let's find out!

Lightning Last Game: Lightning rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy shut out the Sabres on Tuesday. Stamkos, Callahan, and Hedman scored for the Bolts, and really, they were playing Buffalo, there's not much else to say.

Leafs Morning Skate Notes
Not much on the twitters this morning...

Lightning morning Skate Notes

NHL.com Line Ups (from Tuesday)
Toronto

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Richard Panik
Leo Komarov - Peter Holland - David Booth
Zach Sill - Joakim Lindstrom - Brandon Kozun

Dion Phaneuf - Roman Polak
Eric Brewer - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Tim Erixon
Injured: Trevor Smith (lower body)

Tampa Bay

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette - Valtteri Filppula - Jonathan Drouin
Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - Filthy London Knight Vladislav Namestnikov

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman
Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison
Andrej Sustr - Mark Barberio

Ben Bishop
Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Matthew Carle (abdominal surgery) JT Brown


Thoughts on the game:
I love me some Stamkos so I hope he has a good game tonight. I'm on #TeamTank so I hope for a great game but Tampa takes it in regulation.

BONUS PREVIEW!

Here's your Lightning-centric preview courtesy of our own Achariya:

WELCOME TO TAMPA, LEAFS! The past few teams that have been through Tampa Bay have suffered, actually. The weather was about 18C and drizzly, and nobody got a chance to go to the beach. Travesty, right? Not so for the Leafs these past two days -- it's been gorgeous. I hope the Leafs have taken advantage of the awesome weather to head to nearby barrier island of St. Petersburg and wallow on the warm sand. They definitely deserve to escape their traveling circus of beat reporters.

If you want a real Tampa preview, go to Raw Charge, of course! What follows is simply my own humble opinion, and I'll do my best to provide links to pertinent Raw Charge articles as I go.

Bolts fans woke up to the news that Vladislav Namestnikov was recalled from the Syracuse Crunch last night due to injury in the Bolts' lineup. This was weird, because none of the beat reporters saw anything amiss during yesterday's practice. It turns out that the injured forward is our 4th line/often scratch JT Brown, a sad turn of events, because with Brett Connolly in Boston there was really nobody getting in the way of JT's time in the lineup. In JT's place we're putting Vladdy, and although the Crunch are heartbroken to see him called up, I'm rather excited to see how he's doing.

Who is Vladdy? (Editor's note: He's a filthy ex-London Knight is who he is)

  • He was reassigned to the Crunch early in the season because the Bolts had too much forward depth, and Yzerman hated benching a good young player.
  • He was the 27th overall draft pick in 2012.
  • He's the nephew of Vyacheslav Kozlov, who was a former linemate of Steve Yzerman.
  • His name is ridiculously Russian, but he speaks English like a midwesterner. This is because he moved to the US when he was less than a year old.
  • No really, after watching his interviews, you'll agree that his name ought to be Ted Logan.
  • Just like Drouin, this kid is pretty good at hockey, and just like Drouin, he's working on being defensively responsible and playing "away from the puck."

Also new in our lineup is Braydon Coburn. He played his first Bolts' game vs. the Sabres this past Tuesday, and John Cooper had this to say about him: "I honestly didn't notice him." The fans did, however, after Coburn clocked his first fight in his first Bolts game.

Is that good? Bad? There have been questions about why Yzerman traded (too much) for Braydon Coburn. The Raw Charge folks have discussed this trade at length. Notable is Kyle Alexander's scepticism, and John Fontana's more philosophical acceptance. Weirdly enough, the people at Broad Street Hockey are the ones that made me most comfortable with the trade -- they call Coburn their "Best D," and are sad that he's gone:

Timonen and Coburn are the Flyers’ top defensive pair by any measure — they play the most minutes, face the toughest competition and have the best Corsi ratings (a plus/minus stat based on shot attempts) among the team’s defensemen. (Source)

In general, how are the Bolts doing?

Honestly, the Bolts are still showing their youth as a team. The Bolts get up a head of steam and go charging through the ranks of the best teams in the league -- only to completely relax and post a clunker, like the one vs. the Cats a few games ago. Part of the Bolts’ issue all year long has been raising the maturity level of the D corps (yeah, there is no trouble at all with the depth of the forwards).

Is this now solved with the addition of Coburn, and the hopeful recovery of his once-and-future D-partner, Matt Carle? We'll have an older, wiser top four D (Hedman-Stralman, Coburn-Carle), which will allow our developing D (Sustr, Barberio, Nesterov, Witkowski) to clock the minutes they earn. For tonight, look for Jason Garrison with Coburn, while I put my hands together and pray for good chemistry.

The Bolts’ other huge, annoying issues are (1) sleeping through the first 20 minutes, and (2) the power play. In February, Fontana wrote an article about how the Bolts should just decline the power play, although lately -- holy s*** -- it’s been working. (But crap, if I talk about how it’s working, does that mean it’ll stop working again? Crap.) Join me in shooting the good single-malt if it actually works.

Other important things to note:

  • The beat reporters aren't awake at the time I'm writing this, but I'm pretty sure you're getting Bish in net tonight, Vasy played on Tuesday.
  • Bishop has a new helmet, and it's Tronriffic.
  • Vasilevskiy has new pads, and they're nice but not earth-shattering.
  • Ben Bishop is 1-0-0 while wearing his new helmet; Vasy is 1-0-0 while wearing his new pads.
  • John Cooper chews a LOT of gum on the bench. I mean seriously he's gonna break his jaw one of these days.
  • My favorite player is Cedric Paquette, but I can’t buy his jersey due to my triskaidekaphobia. :(
  • Stamkos is, as always, pretty.
  • Bolts are wearing their black third jerseys tonight so as not to accidentally pass to the Leafs.