Analyze keys to Leafs, Lightning victory in Game 7

How does Drake affect the Maple Leafs?

That’s the question we’re all asking after he potentially cursed Toronto with an alleged Instagram story before the Maple Leafs knocked out their opponent. While they had the chance to close the series in six, the defending Stanley Cup champions forced a decisive seventh game.

So what are the keys on each side to move on to the next round?

Toronto: Controlling clashes with Auston Matthews

The Maple Leafs have home ice for Game 7, and that’s something the coaches need to use to their advantage. At 5-on-5 in this series, Toronto still generates one of the highest shot attempt rates with Matthews on the ice and moving to the slot thanks to both center runs and puck-moving efforts from his right winger, Mitch Marner. And Matthews still unsurprisingly leads the team in shot attempts, including from the slot.

But the Lightning are doing their best to limit that, including hampering their attempts. So with the latest change, there will likely be a concerted effort to get Matthews away from Anthony Cirelli (who leads blocked shots for Tampa Bay) and Victor Hedman (who leads blocked passes) since they did their best to slow down one of the biggest offensive threats in this series.

If the second line with John Tavares and William Nylander can sustain the pressure they generated in Game 6 and the front line clicks, Tampa Bay could be in trouble.


RELATED: Lightning force Game 7 with 4-3 OT win over Maple Leafs


Tampa Bay: Maintaining a lead

The Lightning lost a 2-0 lead in Game 6, which could have ended their season. Luckily, they managed to tie the game one more time to force overtime. But that could become a problem if they don’t manage Toronto’s efforts to advance better.

At 5-on-5, the Lightning are doing well from an offensive generation perspective while playing with a lead — but they’re not finishing as many of their chances to lean on. The problem is that they allow a fair amount of quality chances to come back, and more of them end up in the back of the net than expected. In the regular season, Toronto was one of the best teams to play from behind; they’re still on the high end compared to other teams in the playoffs. So far through six games, Tampa Bay generally haven’t been that inspiring late in games, so if it’s down to this decider, they’re going to have to build a lead and find a way to keep Toronto from going up. a return.

Toronto: Stay disciplined or constantly kill in power

In Game 1, the Maple Leafs’ shorthanded efforts helped them open the series with a win. It wasn’t anything new; rather, it was an extension of their regular season play with aggressive two-way play while shorthanded.

But now, after six games, Tampa Bay has seven power-play goals. True or false on which calls are and are not made, Toronto must work to maintain their discipline or find a way to get back to their power by killing more consistently in this game by disrupting their forming opponent 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 out of the run.

In all situations, the Leafs took 35 penalties to draw only 30. While the Lightning leads in penalties in the offensive zone (eight), Toronto leads with 20 in defense. In Thursday night’s game, the away team took back-to-back penalties in the third period, and the tying goal ended up in the back of the net on that 5-3 advantage for Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay

Going into this series, Tampa Bay had the bona fide advantage in net. Jack Campbell started the season strong and saw his game decline over time. Vasilevskiy still finished near the top of the league with goals saved above expectations, despite not being at his usual level. But his outright presence gave the Lightning the advantage in goal.

While the Toronto goaltender is the only one to get the hook at some point in this series, their performances haven’t been too different after all. Campbell’s allowed 2.66 goals above expectations in all situations, while Vasilevskiy (in slightly more ice time) is at 2.72. There’s a different expectation between these two goaltenders, and maybe the Lightning aren’t used to going into the playoffs without having their Conn Smythe-caliber game. But right now, that’s not what they’re getting. So what can the team do to help it get there?

Special teams aside, there’s work to be done at 5-on-5. There, Toronto created 95 slot attempts, 56 of which logged onto the net, and eight of which ended up on the back . Both teams generated a lot of rush, but the Maple Leafs have the advantage there and created quite a few scoring chances out of the cycle unlike their opponent. Contributing to those quality chances is the Maple Leafs’ ability to move the puck to the slot, so that’s another area the Lightning could work to clean up.

Waiting for game 7

As open as the start of this series has been, the later games have been much closer. And Game 7 will likely be no different. That’s why every quality chance or every mistake counts all the more.

The stakes are higher than ever, with the Maple Leafs facing elimination for the first time in this series against a team that knows how to elevate its game when it matters most. On the other side, there is Toronto who must overcome this obstacle against a team that could be out of gas after two long runs.

So will it be Goodnight Tampa Saturday night? Or will it be Goodnight Toronto again?

Data via Sportlogiq

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