Analyzing the keys to the Leafs’ victory, Lightning in Game 7
How does Drake affect the Maple Leafs?
That’s the question we’re all asking ourselves after he potentially cursed Toronto with an alleged Instagram story before the Maple Leafs. Really eliminating his opponent. While they had a chance to close out the series in six, the reigning Stanley Cup champions forced a decisive Game 7.
So what are the keys for each side to progress to the next round?
Toronto: controlling matchups with Auston Matthews
The Maple Leafs have ice at home for Game 7, and that’s something coaches need to use to their advantage. At 5-on-5 in this series, Toronto continues to generate one of the highest rates of shot attempts with Matthews on the ice. Y he passes into the slot thanks to both the center’s completions and the puck movement effort of his right winger, Mitch Marner. And, unsurprisingly, Matthews still leads the team in shot attempts, even from the slot.
But the Lightnings are doing their best to limit that, especially getting in the way of his attempts. So with the latest change, there is likely to be a concerted effort to keep Matthews away from the likes of Anthony Cirelli (who leads in blocked shots for Tampa Bay) and Victor Hedman (who leads in blocked passes) as they have done their Lo better to slow down one of the biggest offensive threats in this series.
If the second row with John Tavares and William Nylander can keep up the pressure they generated in Game 6, Y the top line is clicking, Tampa Bay may be in trouble.
Tampa Bay: Keeping the Edge
The Lightning blew a 2-0 lead in Game 6, which could have ended their season. Luckily, they managed to tie the match once more to force extra time. But this could become a problem if they don’t better manage Toronto’s efforts to get ahead.
At 5v5, the Lightning are fine from an offensive generation standpoint while playing with an advantage, but they aren’t finishing many of their opportunities to take advantage of it. The problem is that they are allowing a good number of quality chances. Y more of those are ending up in the back of the net than expected. In the regular season, Toronto was one of the best teams playing from behind; they are still at the top end relative to other teams in the playoffs. So far through six games, Tampa Bay has generally not been that inspiring while trailing in games, so if that holds up in this decider, they’ll need to build a lead and find a way to limit Toronto from mounting a Return.
Toronto: stay disciplined or kill with power constantly
In Game 1, shorthanded efforts by the Maple Leafs helped them open the series with a win. This was not something new; rather, it was an extension of their regular season play with aggressive two-way play while on the penalty spot.
But now, through six games, Tampa Bay has seven power play goals. Right or wrong on the calls that are made and not made, Toronto has to work to maintain their discipline, or find a way to get back to their power by killing more consistent forms in this matchup by disrupting their opponent in formation with their sticks. , forcing the puck out of the zone (ideally with possession like in the regular season) and finding ways to test Andrei Vasilevskiy on the run.
In all situations, the Leafs have taken 35 penalties and only allowed 30. While the Lightning lead in offensive zone penalties (eight), Toronto is on top with 20 on the defensive end. In Thursday night’s game, the road team took two straight penalties in the third period, with the tying goal going into the back of the net in that 5-on-3 lead for Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay: Protecting Andrei Vasilevskiy
Going into this series, Tampa Bay had the bona fide advantage at the net. Jack Campbell started the season strong and saw his game slip as it went on. Vasilevskiy still finished top of the league in goals saved above expectations, even if he wasn’t at his usual level. but his presence total gave Rayo the advantage in goal.
While Toronto’s goaltender is the only one to have taken the hook at one point this series, after all, his performances haven’t been much different. Campbell allowed 2.66 goals higher than expected in all situations, while Vasilevskiy (on slightly more ice time) is at 2.72. There’s a different expectation between these two goalies, and maybe the Lightning aren’t used to going to the postseason without having their Conn Smythe-caliber game. But right now that It is not what they are getting. So what can the team do to help you get there?
Special teams aside, there is some work to be done at 5v5. There, Toronto created 95 slot attempts, 56 of which connected at the net and eight of which ended in the back. Both teams have generated a lot in the race, but the Maple Leafs have the edge there. Y they have created quite a few scoring opportunities out of the cycle unlike their opponent. Contributing to those quality opportunities is Maple Leafs’ ability to move the puck into the slot, so that’s another area Lightning could work to clean up.
Looking ahead to Game 7
As open as the beginning of this series was, recent games have been much closer. And Game 7 probably won’t be any different. That’s why every quality opportunity or every mistake matters much more.
The stakes are as high as ever, with the Maple Leafs facing elimination for the first time in this series against a team that knows how to raise its game when it matters most. On the other hand, there is Toronto, which has to overcome this hurdle against a team that may be low on gas after two long races.
So will it be Goodnight Tampa on Saturday night? Or will it be Goodnight Toronto again?
Data via Sportlogiq