Tampa Bay Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena

The Leafs want to bottle up that Lightning and put it on the shelf for another year. And no one thinks that's going to be easy. The fourth win is a hard thing to get.


They mad. That's about the full story. Mostly at themselves, which is not good for the Leafs. They aren't going to be an easy out.

Erik Cernak is out for sure, the rest of the Game 4 lineup is likely back:


Eduardo Encina via Daily Faceoff - from the last game.

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

Victor Hedman - Nicklaus Perbix
Mikhail Sergachev - Darren Raddysh
Ian Cole - Zach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliott


The decision has been made to not play Michael Bunting in this game, and to go with a form of the lineup that finished Game 4. We've been here before. When the Leafs played less than great possession hockey, the mixed up lines from the end of the game persist to the next outing.

What to do with Michael Bunting
Scarborough’s Michael Bunting is back from a three-game suspension following his Game 1 hit on Erik Cernak. While his suspension has been argued to be outside the norm and standard set by DoPS elsewhere in the playoffs, it’s in the past now, and it’s time to move forward. Specifically, where

Most notable is Matt Knies on the second line.


UPDATE: I think I wrote this up wrong, and Marner and Nylander are going to be switched.

Calle Järnkrok - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies - John Tavares - William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot - Ryan O'Reilly - Noel Acciari
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kämpf - Sam Lafferty

Morgan Rielly - Luke Schenn
Jake McCabe - TJ Brodie
Mark Giordano - Justin Holl

Ilya Samsonov
Joe Woll

The Game

I like to say that the point of watching hockey is to learn lessons about how the world really works. It's not fair or just, and deserve doesn't enter into it most of the time. You can't sit back and yell, "But, MOM!" and expect the hand of natural justice to right the order of things for you.

The random nature of reality is merely the structure, though. Once you get to that point, you are the kid in that photo up there. Does that photo look austere? Maybe cruel? Maybe you look at that picture and say, "Let him be a kid!" But he is being a kid, of course. A kid like Auston Matthews who knew at that age what doing hard things did for him – how it made him want more. That's a kid like Mitch Marner who could never be told no even when he was that size and everyone around him was a foot taller. That's very clearly Matt Knies. He'll tell you no – no you won't score.

That's why we watch sports, to see humans try to do hard things. It makes me uncomfortable when people want it easy. They want a sure thing, a gamed system, a bad team to play against. They want no emotional risk. But doing hard things is not really about going to the rink and practicing your wrist shot for an hour every day. It's about facing the self doubt at 2 am that says you aren't good enough and winning that fight first. You can't cheat your way out of that step in the process.

You can't aspire to be the guy who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple, you can only work towards running hard enough to get there on your own. To believing, as you round second, that you will make it. The Leafs are really just rounding first right now – a place they've stumbled at many times before. But they can make it, not because of fate or destiny or despite curses, but because they worked enough for long enough to be able to do it now. If only they believe in themselves.

Go Leafs Go – you can do hard things.