Game 1 was a disaster for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated them for the entire game; and, in the end, came up with a 7-3 win in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. For the Lightning, Brayden Point scored two goals while Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry each had a goal and two assists. Anthony Cirelli and Ross Colton contributed a goal and an assist each, while Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored for the Lightning. The Lightning scored four power-play goals. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves in his 100th playoff start.
Not Much Good News for the Maple Leafs
For the Maple Leafs, Ryan O’Reilly, William Nylander, and Calle Jarnkrok scored. Mitch Marner tallied three assists and Auston Matthews added two. Toronto winger Michael Bunting received a match penalty and game misconduct for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak.
Game 2 is set for Thursday night in Toronto.
After the Game Sheldon Keefe Was Asked to Assess the Damage
Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 7-3 loss. The hot topics for the media included (a) the team’s slow start, (b) the possibility of the team’s nervousness or tentativeness, (c) Michael Bunting’s match penalty for a hit to the head, and (d) the failed goaltending interference challenge that led to Tampa’s 6-2 goal.
He also spoke about the performance of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Keefe also said it was too early to know whether Joseph Woll would start Game 2 and that it is the nature of a playoff series to have to respond.
And, According to Coach Keefe …
According to coach Keefe’s comments, here are the things his team needs to improve on.
Area of Improvement One: Improved Defensive Play
First, the team needs to improve their defensive play, especially around their net. The team was giving up uncharacteristic tap-in goals and losing battles around the net.
Area of Improvement Two: Improved Confidence
Keefe admitted that he sensed nervousness or tentativeness among the team early on in the game, which may have affected their play. However. he didn’t think nerves played a role in their defensive lapses.
Area of Improvement Three: Improved Carefulness
Although coach Keefe seemed to offer Michael Bunting a measure of grace in regard to his match penalty for a hit to the head, still there’s a need to be more careful with the physicality of the game. Keefe noted that Bunting’s “situation” was that he was trying to win a race for the puck and it got away from him.
Area of Improvement Four: Improved Special Team’s Play
However, the Maple Leafs’ special teams’ play was interesting, to say the least. I’ve never seen two goals scored with less than a few seconds left in the period two times – ever, that I can remember. But the Lightning did it both at the end of the first period and then again at the end of the second period.
Perhaps it was simply misfortune, or perhaps the Maple Leafs believed the Lighting would let the clock wind down. But credit the Lightning for NOT letting the clock wind down. Those two goals took the wind out of the sails.
It also made it tough to judge the Maple Leafs’ five-on-five play.
On a Positive Note for the Maple Leafs
Finally, coach Keefe thought that Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner had a lot of jump in their games. They were consistently buzzing around in the offensive zone.
Grocery List of Things to Fix for Game 2
based on Sheldon Keefe’s post-game comments, these are the key points the Maple Leafs need to do better at if they stand a chance of winning Game 2.
- The Maple Leafs need to improve their defending around their own net. They need to manage rebounds and inside defense.
- The team must avoid being on their heels early in the game. They need to overcome their nervousness or tentativeness.
- The team needs to reduce penalties and avoid match penalties like Michael Bunting’s hit to the head.
- The Maple Leafs need to shake it off and respond to a tough loss and the nature of a playoff series.
- The team needs to generate more flow in their five-on-five play.
- The Maple Leafs need to make better defensive decisions. They conceded several uncharacteristic goals.
- The team needs to win more puck battles in front of their own net. There were too many easy tap-ins.
/ 11 hours ago
The days of getting William Nylander signed at $9-$10 million are gone says a...
/ 14 hours ago
Kieffer Bellows is not a name on Toronto Maple Leafs fans radar. However, he...
/ 18 hours ago
One NHL analyst asked the question: Is William Nylander's play this season linked directly...
/ 2 days ago
It sounds like a decision from Patrick Kane is imminent and there's one clear...
/ 2 days ago
Patrik Laine said that being made a healthy scratch was the most embarrassing thing...
/ 2 days ago
Milan Lucic is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday in Boston Municipal Court on...
/ 3 days ago
According to an NHL insider regarding the Columbus Blue Jackets, 'one way or the...
/ 3 days ago
A number of NHL executive revealed what they thought was a fair value on...
/ 4 days ago
Columbus Blue Jackets have announce Patrik Laine as a healthy scratch for tonight's game...
/ 4 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers were seen scouting the Montreal Canadiens this week and teams said...