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Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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Coming off a bad loss, can the Leafs rebound?

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

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

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - Alexey Marchenko

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak


Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Jonathan Drouin - Yanni Gourde

Adam Erne - Byron Froese - ???

J.T. Brown - Gabriel Dumont - Luke Witkowski

Defence Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

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.