Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Sunny Road Trip Continues Against the Tampa Bay Lightning
We have all waited patiently and now it is time to drop the puck on a new season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here at the Tip of the Tower we strive to give you as much content on your Toronto sports teams as humanly possible. This series will preview every single Toronto Maple Leafs game and what you should know for the game that night.
Nov 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) tries to control the puck in front of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Leafs beat the Lightning 5-2 in their last meeting this season.
Leafs Injury Report
Leo Komarov is doubtful with a concussion.
Lightning Injury Report
Jason Garrison is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
Dec 28, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Brad Boyes (left) celebrates his game winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs as defenseman Roman Polak (46) and center Aleksander Barkov (16) look on in the third period at BB&T Center. The Panthers won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
It seems like Leafs fans just took a trip down memory lane to game seven versus the Boston Bruins, where the team blew a three-goal lead in the third period and eventually lost in overtime. This time however, the Leafs not only gave up a two-goal lead in the third, but they allowed four goals in that period against the Florida Panthers! It is debatable to say which was worse – probably the game against the Bruins, because if the Leafs held on they would have been off to the next round in the playoffs. Now what that game has done is leave a cloud over this franchise that will forever be brought up when this team has a lead going into the third period.
Dec 28, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Peter Holland (24) , defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) , Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) and right wing Jimmy Hayes (12) battle for the puck in the third period at BB&T Center. The Panthers won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The only way the Leafs will get over these types of losses is by having their defence shutdown their opponents in the third period. No more allowing their opponent to get over 15 shots in the third period. Do not let forwards to crash the net or get open in the slot. Yes James Reimer had a bad game, but considering the way this team has played defensively in front of him it is not surprising to see him have a bad night.
Nov 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr (62) plays the puck as he is pressured by Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Against the Lightning last time, the Leafs were guilty of being too relaxed in the third period even though they had a comfortable lead. Randy Carlyle can now make his team aware of what will happen if his team goes to sleep in the third period. The great teams do not take a step back, because it exposes weakness. If the Leafs want to prove they can be a great team it will they will have to show it against the Lightning who will try to kick them down again.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel career vs FLR: 30 GP – 12 goals – 8 assist – 20 PTS
James van Riemsdyk career vs FLR: 15 GP- 3 goals- 6 assists- 9 PTS
Joffrey Lupul career vs FLR: 18 GP- 6 goals- 7 assists- 13 PTS
Nazem Kadri career vs FLR: 9 GP- 1 goals- 7 assists- 8 PTS
Jonathan Bernier career vs FLR: 3 GP (2 GS) – Record: 1-1 2.58 GAA – .938 SV%
James Reimer career vs FLR: 5 GP- Record: 1-3, 3.47 GAA- .868 SV%
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos career vs TOR: 22 GP- 14 goals- 13 assists- 27 PTS
Ben Bishop career vs TOR: 10 GP- Record: 3-5, 3.14 GAA- .885 SV%
Ryan Callahan career vs TOR: 24 GP- 4 goals- 3 assists- 7 PTS
Victor Hedman career vs TOR: 17 GP- 1 goals- 4 assists- 5 PTS
Evgeni Nabokov career vs TOR: 11 GP- Record: 7-2, 3.06 GAA- .889 SV%
Keys to Victory
Dec 28, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) gives up a goal to Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (not pictured) as Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Daniel Winnik (26) defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) and Panthers center Nick Bjugstad (27) look on in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
If the Leafs get a lead of any sort it will be up to the team to keep pressing, because the Lightning are a dangerous offensive team and you do not want to give them any motivation in the game.
The defence will have to be aware of Stamkos (duh) – he can quickly swing the momentum in a game and if he gets going, it will be hard for the Leafs to contain him.
Nov 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk (21) pounces on a rebound before scoring his second goal past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) in the second period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Bishop has not played well against the Leafs, so it will be important for them to try and be chippy in front of the net. He is a big goalie, but they have to find a way to disrupt him in any way they can to have a chance to knock him off his game.
Lupul and JVR have been playing well offensively – if Kessel can try to elevate his game, the Lightning will have a hard time containing this offence. The more important thing for their top six forwards is to try and establish more offensive time with the puck, because they have been struggling defensively.
Jan 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (30) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (19) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The important thing for the Leafs is to prove last night was just another game that did not go their way. As a team they will be judged more from their response then by what happened last night. It starts with their top pairing of Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf, who have to shake off a bad outing where they were a minus three. If they cannot contain Stamkos then the Leafs will have a hard time coming away with a victory.