Tampa Bay Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:30 PM at Scotiabank Arena


Comparing the Leafs and Lightning line by line
This series preview tells the story of the regular season for both the Leafs and the Bolts. How they are similar and how they are different. And especially how each team produces their offense.

We know this team. We know them in their regular season where they seemed to struggle, and we know them from last season's playoffs.

They are weaker than they were last year, and they added more toughness and no skill at the deadline. They will live and die off their top six and their two best defenders. Their best player is their goalie.


Erik Erlendsson via Daily Faceoff from yesterday's practice

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

Victor Hedman - Nicklaus Perbix
Mikhail Sergachev - Darren Raddysh
Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliott


The Leafs are better than they were last year. They added meaningful skill with Ryan O'Reilly and Calle Järnkrok. But they will still live and die on the sticks of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander.

The goaltending is scarily fragile right now, but it's been better this year too. The best player on the Leafs is Auston Matthews.


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

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


Well, that's a good question, isn't it?

This was hard to figure out since an EBUG is the guy who is in the rink to play in an emergency that happens in-game for either team.

So what this means is the Leafs did two things. They recalled Erik Källgren to be a practice goalie – you can't practice with the team without being on the NHL roster. And they are also designating him as the EBUG for this game. I don't believe it will be necessary in future to recall the pro goalie serving as an EBUG.

That means, the expected goalies are:

Ilya Samsonov
Joe Woll

The Game

Everyone is talking about special teams and lines and refs, the depth, the sad loss of Pierre Engvall, which defenceman isn't playing and who gets the blame when it all goes wrong. This all in aid of trying to figure out how you can game the randomness of hockey and bend it to your will while deciding who to hold to account if luck turns against you. But you can't control the universe. It spins how it wills.

This is the only lesson hockey is here to teach you. This is why we're here, to try to control fate, and to realize, eventually, after years of stubborn refusal to admit it, that we can only control ourselves.

It's even a hockey truism, although one often ignored. It's the smartest one, though – you can only control your own play, how many chances you get, how many you deny the other guy. That is the entire game replicated across a set of 26 humans. It's describable with numbers, but not PP% or Sh% or Points per 60 or Save%. Or how many goals the luckiest fourth liner between the two teams scores.

It's how many times did you shoot? How hard did you try? Keep trying! Don't ever stop trying! But are you good enough? Is your best better than theirs? What do you do if the luck goes their way? You know the answer, get out there and do it! Never stop. That's how this game is won.

This game is their best and our best. This game is Auston Matthews vs Andrei Vasilevskiy.  

Go Leafs Go!