The Toronto Maple Leafs can celebrate Mothers Day in fine fashion by taking a commanding 3-1 lead on the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champs.
But if things were that easy, the Toronto Maple Leafs would have won a series since you replaced the old VCR with a DVR.
Game Three was insane – the Leafs started out great, but had to withstand a massive barrage in order to win. IMO this is great news because you were never beating Tampa four times if you have to “deserve” to win every game you win – it’s the playoffs, so your goalie has to steal some games, and Campbell stole that one.
Now, down in the series, Tampa has to face up to the fact that the Leafs haven’t even had a game where Matthews and Marner dominate, and John Tavares is yet to show up.
It’s still going to be extremely tough, but all signs are pointing in the Leafs favor.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game Four
The Leafs lineup remains mostly the same as it was for game three – and that’s too bad because sitting Timothy Liljegren is incredibly dumb. It’s just as stupid as last year when Montreal’s (soon to be fired) coach sat Romanov and Caulfield vs the Leafs.
This was my fear when the Leafs traded for Giordano Lyubushkin- that they’d end up in a situation where they overvalued vets and physical play, while leaving arguably their two best defenseman on the bench. I can understand sitting Sandin due to his injury that hasn’t seen him play a game in six weeks, but sitting Liljegren is among the worst coaching moves in NHL history, if you want my opinion.
I also want to criticize, in the strongest possible terms, the idea of playing Michael Bunting on the fourth line, with Alex Kerfoot riding shotgun with Matthews and Marner. This is a classic case of the coach overthinking things. This is a ridiculous idea, and, if Bunting is hurt so they’re trying to limit his exposure, just don’t play him.
I suspect that the Leafs will revert to normal by the second period, but I don’t know what Keefe is thinking here.
Now, even though I don’t like the Leafs current lineup, I have to say that they have definitely earned the benefit of the doubt. I am sure that if Keefe personally explained to me why he’d doing what he’s doing, I’d probably end up agreeing with him. He’s got his reasons, this team is incredibly deep, and I am certain that at some point Liljegren will get back into the lineup and prove his worth.
I expect the Leafs to win tonight, and then what will follow will be a mind numbing comparison to last seasons’ 3-1 collapse to the Canadiens that will just get louder when the Leafs lose game five in Toronto on Tuesday.
We are in for some fun!