The Toronto Maple Leafs have lacked a killer instinct in both Game 2 and Game 4 of their first-round series. Whatever momentum they gain in this series against the Tampa Bay Lightning disappears by the following game.
After a dominating performance in Game 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs came out flat in Game 2. Game 3 saw them compile a 3-0 lead, withstand a Tampa comeback, and win 5-2. That was followed up with a horrible start on Sunday in Game 4 and saw them lose 7-3.
One could say that if this is going to be the trend for the whole series then Toronto will win both Game 5 and Game 7. That would give them the series win, but I don’t think anyone wants to see Toronto in a Game 7 do or die situation.
Toronto needs a strong start in Game 5 on Tuesday. They need to play as they did in Game 1 and Game 3. While doing that, they need to develop a killer instinct because they can not afford to allow Tampa to gain any more momentum. Tampa knows what it takes to close out a series, and if they win either Game 5 or Game 6, they will likely win the series.
Toronto Maple Leafs Must Win Game 5
Game 5 is on Tuesday, May 10th, in Toronto, and for the Leafs it is a must-win game. No team has won two in a row in this series so far. Toronto needs to keep it that way for Game 5, and if they win, they will need to close the series out in Game 6.
To do that against a skilled team like Tampa, the Toronto Maple Leafs will need to keep their foot on the gas pedal. They will need to play a tight-checking and disciplined game. Toronto can not afford to give the Lightning too many chances on the power-play.
The Leafs have shown that they can play a good cycle game and control the puck for long periods. They need to establish that early on in Game 5 and never let up. If they can do that, then Toronto will win this series.
Stars such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares will need to put on a show in Game 5. Tavares has had a decent series but has yet to score. He will need to lead by example in Game 5, and hopefully, the rest will follow.
Another first-round exit from the playoffs is just not acceptable for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team needs to learn how to take control and not give it back. Toronto must win both Game 5 and Game 6 if they want to win this series. If the series does go to a Game 7, Toronto could still win, but Tampa’s experience of winning back-to-back Stanley Cups could give them an edge.