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Three Key Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-2 Loss to the Lightning

Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. What were the three key takeaways from the game?

The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs. While the defeat marked a setback of sorts for the Maple Leafs, is this now a downhill slide out of the playoffs for this Toronto team?

Probably not. That said, the demons remain. There are two more chances to exorcise them, so it isn’t time for Maple Leafs’ fans to panic – at least not yet.

In this post, I’ll look at three key takeaways from the game.

Takeaway One: Lightning Goalie Andrei Vasilevsky Made the Difference

There’s no question that Tampa Bay’s goaltender, Andrei Vasilevsky, was the difference maker in the game. Despite a weak performance in the series leading up to Game 5 last night, Vasilevsky played just like the “world’s best goalie.” He shut the door on the Maple Leafs and turned the game around for Tampa Bay after they went down 1-0. 

There’s a difference between good and great players. And, Vasilevskiy is one of the greats. He’s hard to keep in the bottle for many games. It might be a tough task for the Maple Leafs to beat him, but they have and will try. 

Although he hasn’t shown it – other than last night’s game –  Vasilevsky has consistently been great during his career. He was, to repeat myself, the difference last night.

Related: Revisiting Maple Leafs Choice Not to Sign Corey Perry

Takeaway Two: The Maple Leafs’ Demons Remain

The Maple Leafs scored the game’s first goal, but their demons had a different plan. They invaded the Maple Leafs’ players’ heads. And that was enough to erode their physical skills. 

The Maple Leafs looked as if they lacked confidence. They struggled to find the mojo that had been skating beside them during the third period and overtime in Game 4. 

For example, Mitch Marner has a breakaway but missed it. If the Maple Leafs do move on, winning the mental battles will be about as important as winning the physical ones. There remain a few more mental obstacles for Toronto to overcome if they hope to move on in the playoffs.

Related: 7 Reasons Maple Leafs Practice Patience by Sitting Bunting

Takeaway Three: Look for Lineup Changes

The decision to sit Michael Bunting is now likely over. Changes might (and I expect them to be) made in Toronto’s lineup. I’m thinking that forward Sam Lafferty will sit with defenseman Justin Holl beside him. 

Holl made a couple of tough mistakes tonight, and Lafferty is generating little on offense. Holl’s been on the ice for 70% of the goals scored against the Maple Leafs in this series. 

MIchael Bunting Toronto Maple Leafs

All this angst aside, the Maple Leafs remain up in the series three games to two. The series is far from over for them. Still, given their history of successive losses, it’s hard not to feel discomfort. 

Saturday – perhaps?




  1. SSDD

    April 28, 2023 at 12:22 am

    Really???? Demons???? How about the Leafs as constructed are probably just not good enough. A pretender not a contender.

  2. Jon Harding

    April 28, 2023 at 1:24 am

    Disappointing result but an opportunity Saturday awaits in Tampa. Stay positive and objective, make a few key adjustments to the lineup and try again. Hope leaders lead.

  3. gfinale

    April 28, 2023 at 7:37 am

    Think there’s a typo, game 5, not 3 😉 Based on the past 6 years and the fact the Leafs have been substantially outplayed in 4 out of 5 games in this series mean we should say probably as opposed to probably not?!

  4. gfinale

    April 28, 2023 at 7:45 am

    Although someone commented on Holl’s bad play the game before, this game his 3 bad errors make it clear that someone else needs to be tried while Holl sits. I believe 2 of those errors led to Lightning goals. Let’s be clear that the entire team got outplayed 80+% of the game though so it’s not all on Holl.

  5. gfin

    April 28, 2023 at 8:11 am

    The team has been outplayed most of the time by the Lightning, even when they won games 3 and 4. However, this is about whatever can be done.

    Samsonov has just been ok. He hasn’t really been good, let alone great. He has let in an iffy goal or two each game and a glaring one he had to have this last game. Although Woll has little experience, he has been solid throughout it so he should probably play next game.

    Holl made 3 bad errors that led to 2 goals. Holl also decided to play forward at times which he’s done before unnecessarily and he should never do that, especially when Matthews is then at the blue line! Someone else needs to play instead of Holl. It shouldn’t be Liljegren as he was stumbling for the last few weeks of the regular season because he isn’t ready for this time of the year YET.

    Rielly is creeping back into playing in his own zone again, where he should never play and where is Keefe to ensure that doesn’t happen! Keefe had last change so there is no excuse.

    Bunting seems to not have listened all year and it would be very bad if he got a 5 min next game! Although a player like him is needed, it’s a huge risk.

    In general, the entire team needs to get back to playing properly positionally and quit this scrambling out of position that leads to getting penalties and giving away the puck!

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