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Odds taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
46-30-6 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
50-21-11 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Nikita Kucherov (6)
Mitchell Marner (10)
Corey Perry, Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli (2)
Auston Matthews, John Tavares (4)
Nikita Kucherov (5)
Mitchell Marner (8)
Victor Hedman (2)
Morgan Reilly (6)
Victor Hedman (4.0)
Shots (Per Game)
Auston Matthews (4.25)
The Tampa Bay Lightning will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs in an intense elimination game. The Lightning destroyed the Maple Leafs 7-3 in Game One but lost the next three games.
The Lightning may be down 3-1, but they have lost two close games in overtime in this series. The Maple Leafs destroyed them in Game Two but Games Three and Four have been very close. They may not be favored to win this game, but with their roster of veterans, they have a strong chance to win this game and make this series interesting.
The Lightning are seeing strong performances from Nikita Kucherov, Corey Perry, Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, and Brandon Hagel in this series. These five all have at least four points and have scored half of Tampa’s goals in this series.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in the net for the Lightning. Vasilevskiy had a .915 save percentage during the regular season but has an .856 save percentage in this series. His performance will be critical to the Lightning’s success or failure today.
The Maple Leafs have surprised me with their play in this series. Toronto has not made it past the First Round since 2004, so I thought this year would be no different. However, they have taken good control of this series and have the right attitude to move on.
The Maple Leafs have been led by Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Ryan O’Reilly, and Morgan Reilly in this series. Marner leads this group with ten points, but the other four all have at least two goals and six points.
Ilya Samsonov will be in the net for the Maple Leafs. Samsonov, like Vasilekskiy, has not been great in this series. He has an .876 save percentage and will need to step up in the next round.
The Lightning are too experienced to lose this game. They will figure out how to win and fight to live another day. Bet on Tampa to win.
The Lightning are the underdogs but will win if they score first and limit the Maple Leafs’ shooting.
The Lightning are on the ropes, and this could be their final game of the season. However, all hope is not lost. There are a few ways they can win this game and give themselves a chance in Game Six. The most effective way would be by scoring the first goal. Tampa struck first in Game One (a 7-3 victory) but failed to do so in Games Two and Three. They may be on the road, but if they score the first goal, they will deflate the Maple Leafs’ fans and gives themselves a necessary jolt of energy.
The Maple Leafs shot 37 times in Games Two and Four of this series. Toronto’s shooting attack played a large role in those victories. The Lightning defensemen must do a better job this time around and limit the Maple Leafs to about 30 shots.
The Maple Leafs are the favorites but will only win if they slow down Nikita Kucherov and win the majority of the faceoffs.
Nikita Kucherov has only scored once in this series but leads the Lightning with five assists. He has struggled to score but has been stepping up with his passing. Kucherov might put a puck in the back of the net in this game, but If I was a Maple Leafs’ defenseman, I would be more concerned with his passing. The Maple Leafs’ defensemen need to get the puck out of his hands before he can set up one of his teammates with a scoring opportunity. If they do so, they will limit the Lightnings’ scoring.
Toronto won half of the faceoffs in Game Four. They can avoid an overtime battle and win this game in regulation if they win ⅔ of the faceoffs in this matchup. That will be the key to limiting Lightning’s shooting and increasing their shooting.
Steven Stamkos has had his moments in this series, but he has not done enough. The veteran has one goal and two assists. Those numbers are decent but need to be better. You expect more from one of your star players, so Stamkos must bring his A-game into this matchup.
On paper, it may look like John Tavares is having a good series. However, if you look closer, you will see that he has been quiet in the last two games. Tavares had an assist in Game One and a hat trick in Game Two but has not had a point since. The center must channel that Game Two energy into this game and make life difficult for the Lightning.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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