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Preview: Maple Leafs vs Lightning

This is not going to be an easy little road trip.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Tampa Bay Lightning
07:00 PM at Amalie Arena
Watch on: NHLN, SN, BSSUN

Opponent’s Site: Raw Charge

The Leafs last game was at home on November 30 against the San Jose Sharks, which Toronto won by a score of 3-1. The Leafs have a record of 15-5-5 so far.

The Tampa Bay Lightning last played an away game on December 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Lightning won by a score of 4-1, and their current league record is 14-8-1.

Tonight’s game is not the HNIC game, and is not on the CBC or streamed on CBC.

Them

Who are the Lightning this season? By that win/loss record they’re about the match of the Leafs in results, but one more win and some loser points has the Leafs higher in the standings.

Toronto vs Tampa Bay

Toronto Stat Tampa Bay
Toronto Stat Tampa Bay
70.0 - 4th Points % - Ranking 63.0 - 10th
3.04 - 18th Goals/Game - Ranking 3.478 - 6th
2.48 - 3rd Goals Against/Game - Ranking 3.087 - 15th
24.1 - 12th Power Play% - Ranking 28.7 - 4th
79.2 - 14th Penalty Kill% - Ranking 77.8 - 20th
10 - 16th Team Sh% - Ranking 11.2 - 6th
0.914 - 6th Team Sv% - Ranking 0.899 - 18th
William Nylander - 13 Most Goals (NST) Steven Stamkos - 13
Mitchell Marner - 29 Most Points (NST) Nikita Kucherov - 35
Michael Bunting - 34 Most PIM (NST) Pat Maroon - 40
Morgan Rielly - 23 TOI Leader (NST) Victor Hedman - 24.53

Tampa is scoring more than the Leafs, but also allowing a lot. Their power play has worked better and their penalty kill has not. The most interesting thing is that 1.2 percentage points is the difference between team shooting of 16th and 6th. The Lightning have several reliable shooters who will score over their expected goals, Steven Stamkos among them. He’s on a heater this year.

Their Save % looks terrible, so is that defending or goaltending? Andrei Vasilevskiy is 24th for goalies with at least seven games played (Matt Murray’s number) at Goals Saved Above Expected on moneypuck.com. Ilya Samsonov is sixth and Murray is ninth. Vasilevskiy hasn’t been terrible, but he’s not in playoff form either. Not yet.

In terms of five-on-five Expected Goals Against per 60, Toronto is currently sitting 13th in the NHL (moneypuck model) and the Lightning are 20th, so they are playing a bit too loose and comfortable. You know, like the kind of entitled team with cup rings and trip to the final last year.

Lines

Source: Gabby Shirley at morning skate

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn
Vladislav Namestnikov - Anthony Cirelli - Ross Colton
Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Édouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Victor Hedman - Mikhail Sergachev
Ian Cole - Erik Cernak
Zach Bogosian - Nick Perbix

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliott

Defender (and former Marlie) Philippe Myers is on waivers today, part of the moves needed to recall Anthony Cirelli, who will skate on the third line. Cole Koepke was also sent down to make space.

Us

The Leafs just keep on keeping on as one after the other of the players becomes injured. Nick Robertson draws in for Calle Järnkrok, and TJ Brodie is not quite ready to return.

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Nick Robertson - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - Pierre Engvall
Zach Aston-Reese - Pontus Holmberg - Wayne Simmonds

Mark Giordano - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Victor Mete - Mac Hollowell

Matt Murray - starter
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

Wayne Simmonds is here to reunite with old friends Corey Perry and Pat Maroon, but the real contest is the Leafs depleted defence up against those hot Lightning shooters. Murray might need to steal this one because the trouble with a Lightning team suffering from “is it spring yet” disease, is that if you piss them off a little, suddenly they can play like it is the playoffs.

Maybe the Leafs should sing lullabies to them.

Go Leafs Go! Keep believing you can fly and you won’t crash to earth.