Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs start the sequence that they hope will lastly break their streak of postseason failure to advance past the primary spherical of the playoffs. They performed effectively over the ultimate stretch and have home-ice benefit heading into Game 1 towards the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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Maple Leafs followers know effectively what the Lightning are able to. They knocked the Blue and White out of the playoffs final yr in a Game 7 loss on residence ice. This season, nevertheless, Toronto has one other likelihood to proper ship.
The Maple Leafs made some strong trades on the deadline to bolster their roster. They completed sturdy with 4 victories, together with one over the Lightning. Now they’ll search to hold that momentum by the playoffs and make a deep run to Stanley Cup.
In this version of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll check out among the participant strikes heading into the postseason. I’ll additionally have a look at some the explanation why Ryan O’Reilly would possibly assist push the Maple Leafs excessive.
Item One: The Lightning’s Record Since the All-Star Break
Tampa Bay struggled on the finish of the common season. The crew ended with 4 straight losses earlier than beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-0 within the ultimate sport. The Lightning’s play after the All-Star break (a 14-15-5 document) was merely not that spectacular.
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Still, they’re the Lightning. The crew’s resume exhibits a formidable postseason document, profitable 11 of 12 playoff sequence and two championships over the previous three seasons. In reality, they’re hoping to make historical past by being the primary crew to succeed in the Stanley Cup Final in 4 straight seasons for the reason that New York Islanders did it 5 instances within the Nineteen Eighties.
The level is, it will be unwise for anybody to rely them out of this postseason or (possibly) some other. They are a potent crew.
Item Two: Vasilevskiy Is, Well, Vasilevskiy
Goaltending may very well be the tipping level on this sequence. The Maple Leafs are relying on Ilya Samsonov to proceed his strong play, whereas the Lightning can be going (as all the time) with Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy is just a playoff nightmare for opposing groups. He’s been a standout performer of their previous playoff runs and is bound to be robust to attain towards this postseason.
Vasilevskiy is well-rested coming into this sequence. He performed solely two of his crew’s final 5 after the Bolts clinched their postseason spot on April 1. Count on him to be prepared as they chase down their fourth straight journey to the Stanley Cup Final (from “Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy rested, strong for another playoff run,” Eduardo A. Encina, Tampa Bay Times, 4/17/2023).
Item Three: Why Matthew Knies Won’t Be Playing Tonight
Matthew Knies gained’t be within the lineup for Game 1 tonight. The group likes him, however as a newcomer, he’s solely performed three NHL video games that had little impression on the common season’s document. Second, he hasn’t but performed on residence ice throughout a sport that counts.
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Most of all, the gamers who’re taking part in tonight have earned the best to take action. The crew’s fourth line has been probably the greatest traces over the previous dozen video games. It’s laborious to see Knies including to that group. Zach Aston-Reese, specifically, has been taking part in very well. Why exchange him?
I agree with the crew’s determination let him watch a sport or two from the press field earlier than he sees motion – if he does this postseason. Why repair one thing that isn’t damaged? Should the Maple Leafs want him to step up in case of harm, he can try this.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
This Maple Leafs crew has one key newcomer to the postseason, and that’s Ryan O’Reilly. In an interview after apply yesterday, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned what O’Reilly’s impression on the crew is perhaps in the course of the playoffs.
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Keefe spoke concerning the significance of O’Reilly’s management and composure on and off the ice. Specifically, Keefe shared that O’Reilly brings a number of helpful qualities to the crew. He’s a seasoned veteran with playoff expertise and management expertise. He additionally carries a way of composure and confidence. He’s a vocal participant on the ice and helps maintain the crew targeted and motivated. Finally, he’s identified for being a playoff performer, and he has a historical past of taking part in effectively in high-pressure conditions.
Off the ice, Keefe identified that O’Reilly is a selfless teammate who’s conscious of his environment and works to assist others enhance. His presence provides depth and suppleness to the lineup. He can be necessary to the Maple Leafs within the playoffs. He’s a helpful addition to the crew and will assist the Maple Leafs go deep into the postseason.
He can be enjoyable to look at, and from what I’ve learn, I want he wore a microphone.