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Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Jekyll & Hyde, Samsonov & Marner

The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Which team will show up? Who’s leading the way for Toronto?

It was a good Toronto Maple Leafs bounce-back in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But, for a while, much of the hockey world was wondering if the Maple Leafs were heading down the road to another first-round disappointment. However, after Game 2, some questions were answered.

The Maple Leafs showed up fast and strong. The team came out aggressively, starting right from the puck drop. They went head-to-head with Tampa’s best shutdown line. And, they beat them.

Mitch Marner picked off a pass, drew a penalty, and scored on the first shot of the game. The Maple Leafs then went through a bit of a dry spell, but eventually asserted themselves and took the game to the Lightning.

Instead of waiting for the Lightning to make mistakes, the Maple Leafs forced them into mistakes. Then they pounced. In this edition of Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at some of the plays of the game and then anticipate what these might mean going forward.

Related: Key Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 7-2 Win Over the Lightning

Quick Hit One: Maple Leafs Show Jekyll and Hyde Inconsistency: What Now?

The Maple Leafs put in a much better performance in game two against the Lightning. Their convincing win tied up the series. However, question marks remain about Toronto’s consistency and mental toughness. One group of commentators called the team “Jekyll and Hyde.” Why? Because they were unpredictable.

While the Maple Leafs played hard and showed aggression in Game 2, they were criticized for their lack of performance in Game 1. In Game 1, the Maple Leafs appeared to shrink in the face of challenge. The truth is that, until we see what happens in Game 3, there’s still some question about whether the team can be trusted to perform when the going gets tough.

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs Upper Deck
John Tavares led the way for the Toronto Maple Leafs Upper Deck

The Maple Leafs’ players do have playoff experience, but they don’t have “winning” playoff experience. I have to wonder how always losing in series one creates a situation where the team has never learned how to overcome adversity and win when it matters. Fortunately, Ryan O’Reilly does have that experience recently. However, Maple Leafs’ fans don’t yet know how the team will react if it falls behind in the series again.

What we do know is the Maple Leafs’ potential. They showed that in Game 2. The star players stepped up and delivered. However, until they can prove they have the mental toughness and consistency to compete at the highest level and come back every time they need to, there will be doubts about their ability to win in the playoffs.

Related: Bill Barilko, the Tragically Hip & the Most Famous Goal in Maple Leafs History

Quick Hit Two: Ilya Samsonov Shows His Mental Toughness Shines Through

After Game 1, questions about Ilya Samsonov’s mental toughness and ability to forget a bad game haunted him. However, before Thursday’s game, he wanted Wednesday’s practice yesterday to focus on his stopping pucks. Samsonov admitted he played poorly, like s**t, in his words.

Still, he came to the rink smiling. He picked himself up and dusted himself off. Then he went out and beat the amazing Andrei Vasilevskiy at his own game. He created the energy and his teammates (in part) fed off it. Samsonov kept the Maple Leafs in the game during some Lightning offensive flurries in the first period.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

However, the Maple Leafs then commandeered the scoreboard. The crowd went crazy, and the Blue and the White took over the game.

Quick Hit Three: Can the Maple Leafs’ Stars Shine Again in Game 3

The atmosphere and crowd were both wild at Scotiabank Arena. The physical nature of the game, with fights and physical play, got the fans involved. However, the win was led by the Maple Leaf stars, with Morgan Reilly, John Tavares with a hat trick, Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander combining for 14 points.

Matthews had two assists. Tavares scored his first postseason hat trick. Marner led the way and had an impressive performance by scoring two goals and adding an assist. Rielly posted four primary assists. Nylander scored a goal and added an assist.

The team’s stars led the way both on the power play and at even strength. Both areas were dominated by Toronto. Now the question is: Can the team do it again tonight?

Related: The Good, Bad, & Ugly In Maple Leafs Game 2 Win vs. Lightning



  1. Jon Harding

    April 22, 2023 at 7:32 am

    Agree 100% Old Prof. There is no reason to have much, if any, confidence yet, given the opponent and given the Leafs’ recent and longer history. The questions around this team’s resiliency, maturity and commitment to the cause remain in place, at least in my mind. Not sure how long that will take to change.

  2. Pingback: Three Takeaways in Maple Leafs’ 4-3 OT Win over Lightning

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