Leafs at Lightning: Game 69 (nice)
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, SNO
Opponent SBNation Site: Raw Charge
After one of the worst performances of the season, the Leafs look to rebound against a team that’s right in front of them in the hunt for a playoff spot. Tampa were sellers at the deadline, but have been roaring back recently, despite a ridiculous injury list that has seen them give real NHL minutes to Byron Froese (!). As it stands, they’re a point up on the Leafs with one additional game played.
As such, it’s pretty clear that this is arguably the Leafs’ most important game to date - and in addition, it’s one that has the potential to make them look silly. After spending real assets to acquire Brian Boyle from the Lightning, the Leafs would look stupid if they didn’t even outperform the Florida team the rest of the way. They’d look even worse if Boyle bolted in the offseason, in addition to not making the playoffs this season.
Boyle has centred a strong fourth line since his arrival on the Leafs. The rest of the lines are as follows.
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Matt Martin - Brian Boyle - Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Alexey Marchenko
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Jonathan Drouin - Yanni Gourde
Adam Erne - Byron Froese - ???
J.T. Brown - Gabriel Dumont - Luke Witkowski
Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Jason Garrison - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
Obviously, the Lightning are hurt. But they’re like a cornered mouse, and they’ve been fighting back hard over the last few weeks. And if the Leafs play like they did in Sunrise, they’ll beat us too.
Lineup news: Byron Froese was sent back to the AHL, so it seemed like someone like Tyler Johnson might be ready to return. And then, as Tampa does, they changed their minds and called him back. So obviously he’ll score the hat trick. Vlad Namestnikov seems to be injured again as well.